As It's Sopa Day... Piracy..

I know, but as it’s SOPA day it seems appropriate.

There are ways to tackle piracy and cutting out the bits of the internet that you don’t like aren’t it.

Renoise has it right in my eyes, and the way they’re handling their distro model and customer communication is absolutely stunning. The following isn’t for them… it’s for everyone else…

There are some facts people in media development and distribution companies have to accept…

  1. There will always be pirates.

  2. Pirates will always find another distribution network.

  3. Cutting off access to anything makes you look like a dick, however you want to paint it.

So, how do you do it?

Well there are a few factors here.

Value Added Material
Public Perception

So let’s look at them.

Cost and Access:
The two are related in my eyes so lets look at them.

If I, say, buy an album off iTunes, it’ll cost me £8.99 and I can download it to a few devices ONCE. After that it’s up to me to then back up that file and keep the backup safe or that digital file is then gone forever. This makes me fairly reticent to spend £9 on an ephemeral thing that could easily disappear because you changed your phone, which you do every year and your old PC had a HDD crash.

If they kept it in a steam-like library that I can download/delete/redownload at my choosing then I’d consider it even though £9 is still a little steep.

There is a sweet spot between too expensive and too cheap. Too expensive and less people buy it for obvious reasons, too cheap and people automatically assume it isn’t worth anything and don’t buy it because they think it’s an inferior product.

Personally I think that sweet spot is £5-6 for music and movies and £20-25 for a game.

Of course, the price is affected by the access factor. For an album I can’t redownload I’d be unhappy to pay more than £5 for a digital version.

But, of course if it had extra stuff I might change my mind…
Which leads me to…

Value Added Material:
Basically I mean the likes of DVD extras. For example, the old Dr Who DVDs I pretty much buy ONLY for the extras. I’ve seen the damn things before enough times and basically want to watch the new documentaries.

So value added material helps stuff sell. It just does…

With music you can offer PDFs, extra artwork, a video, digital exclusive tracks. Sure, these could end up being pirated too but it least it shows you give a dang about the thing you’re selling.

Public Perception:
This is the big one. This I dont know how to fix.

I’d say the word “stealing” is part of it. Everyone pirates something (yes you do, come on, admit it), which by this definition makes everyone a thief and once that line is crossed, who gives a toss right?

Plus it’s not REALLY stealing when you examine the proper meaning of the word. This is because you aren’t taking stock or a physical item away, you’re just choosing not to pay for something but then use its functions anyway. And there isn’t really a word for that except software piracy and there’s a big problem there with semantics.

Piracy sounds cool.

Piracy sounds like sticking it to the man and rum and aharrrr.

There needs to be a different spin on it, and not one that paints the downloader as a bad guy, it needs to either paint the purchaser in a positive light or get people to understand in a non-accusatory way the potential damage they cause, or better, the potential help they could give by buying their media.

We all, especially those of us who have done work in the industry, know the damage not selling stuff can do. Great record labels and great software houses have all gone under because they could no longer fund themselves.

But how do you get people to know that? And I don’t mean the cold fact, everyone sees the cold fact but the WARM fact, the HUMAN fact , ie: what THEIR contribution means, how THEY can help, what happens if the product they like DOESN’T sell. And sure, lady gaga won’t miss your 1 CD/Digital purchase but Synapscape or Access to Arasaka or Be My Enemy sure will.

But it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t call people for it. The moment someone calls you a d1ck it… well… kind of makes you less inclined to be on their side really…

And the last thing you want to do is paint a potential customer as an enemy. I mean, that helps precisely nobody does it.

Also you get people going, “oh you bought that? I downloaded it from pirate bay”. And unfortunately that hits the “they got a better bargain than me” part of the brain.

But how do you combat that?

How do you change people to see piracy as uncool?

I don’t know the answer to that, I wish I did.

And until someone does the only ways of fighting it are finding the sweet spot in cost, ensuring people have full access to the things they’ve bought and that it comes with extras as a sweetener.

I really wish itunes had steam like model. They definitely have both the resources and the technology to provide that. Why they don’t? I have no idea.

There was some idea with this iCloud thing that you can store your itunes library in there. But how exactly this works I am not sure.

I think, unfortunately it’s the old fashioned music industry that stops them. they offer steam like functionality for apps.

Also emusic stopped their music repository a while back which was a dealbreaker for me.

It looks to me like all the pressure is coming from the old music industry itself deperately clinging onto an old business model.

Oh come on, SOPA uses piracy as a pretext to get a reliable legal mechanism for censorship in place through the back door.

In Australia, child porn is the pretext. Different back-story, same objective: enabling the government to arbitrarily block stuff and to make you fear getting in the way.

tl;dr: it’s not about piracy, it’s about legally enforcing your right to be told to STFU.