Thursday, January 19, 2012

Who REALLY loses to “Piracy”? An open letter to all media moguls.


I’m sure my little rant here will amount to nothing in the big picture, but as a former “pirate” I think I have an opinion on the subject.

I used to pirate everything. Software, music, movies, you name it. It was all stuff that I would NEVER buy otherwise, regardless of price, but I downloaded it anyway just to see what it was. And then, wouldn’t you know it. I found I actually LIKED and USED some of the stuff I downloaded. I deleted the rest.

Finding something nice, and/or useful in the pile of what was basically trash caused me to actually go out and BUY said software, music, and movies. Piracy has not cost you a cent, however it has GAINED you hundreds of dollars which I otherwise would not have spent. Now I am running my machines on 100% “legal, purchased” software. This same story can be retold by hundreds of thousands of people on the internet. Another DJ friend of mine who shall remain nameless did not like Lady GaGa until she downloaded one of her albums and gave it a listen. She is now a self-proclaimed “Little Monster” and has purchased many of her albums (which she otherwise would NOT have purchased). I have more personal examples, but will not list them all here.

My point is, and all you “old school” types who worry about your “lost profits” due to piracy, Piracy does NOT actually cost you a damn penny. It only serves to get your product out to more eyes than would otherwise see it. In return, your get SALES that you otherwise would NOT have seen. So, how can you say you are losing money, when in fact, you are GAINING!

Even pirates realize that the only way to get more and better software, games, and movies is to support the artists and companies which produce said media. This means they need money. So, if you give us something WORTH our money, you WILL GET our money.

You may not make “as much” as you’re used to, as the entire distribution method is changing. This is what really scares you. No more CD’s, and little other physical media. Everything is going digital. We are also willing to pay to download. So you profit margin is actually HIGHER per lower cost sale due to not having to produce and market the physical media. For a great example of someone giving away their stuff, encouraging piracy, and still doing quite well look up Jonathan Coulton, MC Lars, The FuMP, and many other musical acts making money from giving their stuff away.

Instead of worrying about someone stealing your crap, how about putting out some content that we would say outright – I want that! And then pay for it.

I can’t promise I won’t pirate something again. Every now and then I see a piece of software I think I could use/need, but the trial version is usually crippled in some way and I can’t see if it’s really what I want. So, I “pirate” it and test it. If I like it, I buy it. If I don’t like it, it gets uninstalled and deleted. Nobody lost a thing, and there was a possibility for you to make some cash.

Now, I know your greedy lawyers would never see this side of the argument, but if anyone with a clear, common sense head on their shoulders would just THINK about this side of the issue, maybe, just maybe, you could relax a little. Maybe work WITH the internet to find new avenues of distribution/access/income to meet the 21st century head on, instead of holding on so tight to the 80’s….

Give in a little to parody and “fair use” (protected by law, btw). The more eyes that see your stuff, that otherwise wouldn’t could only lead to more sales, and it didn’t cost you a cent in advertising or promotion. Sharing and word of mouth work a lot better than pop-up ads and outrageous lawsuits for downloading a song.

We’ve been through this before with cassette tapes. You fought, you lost. You tried it with CD’s, you fought, you lost. You will lose this one too. The only thing all these “anti-piracy” acts, protections, etc. do is to stop an otherwise honest person from ‘stealing’. The ‘real’ pirates will still know how to get around you and any blocks you attempt to put up. There is a ‘dark side’ to the web unknown to most, where ANYTHING can be found and shared.

And, to bring this rant up to date, it seems Anonymous is taking a strike back tonight on some of the major players in this latest debacle.

Learn to let the internet BE the internet. Learn to USE it, not fight it. We WILL pay you for content worth paying for. That in itself will solve your “piracy problem”.

Now, I’m going watch my rented (not purchased yet however) copy of Avatar on blu-ray. If it’s worth it, I’ll buy it to replace the DVD copy I bought. All because I downloaded a torrent of the movie and liked it. Do the math. That’s TWO sales due to ONE act of “piracy”.