Sorry for a late reply. But I decided to write an article about it on my blog. It took a few days because of the holiday's and this being my first full length article.
It's not necessarily an answer on your question but might give a little more insight on piracy and why it's so troublesome. You can read it here
on my blog or below;
It looks like piracy has won from religion if it comes to the amount of time and effort put into it from both sides of the table. The movie and music industry sued everyone they could sue and forced DRM down the consumers throat while pirates kept breaking it and releasing new media daily on torrents, usenet and private FTP's.
I've however never seen an article talking about why we pirate, why we won't stop and why it is bad. On a daily basis I see news article after news article about the RIAA winning a case
, losing a case
, the NMPA demanding more money
from iTunes or torrent trackers being taken offline, the Pirate Bay going into politics, getting sued, countersuing and I can go on and on. These articles are often accompanied by people needing to voice something they call an opinion. They've become so generic and predictable;
- "First post! Ow and the RIAA sucks!"
- "Well Z is dead, but we've always got X and Y"
- "That site was crap anyway! I download from X"
- "Well they made us download by doing A and B!"
Still I'm puzzled by the fact that so few people see what really is going on, so few people question both sides instead they start polarizing to the pirates and leechers or the music and movie industry. There are several key issues concerning piracy. First being the cultural and social shift from the analog to the digital world. With this change many companies made wrong decisions based on old practice that worked in the analog world, but not the new digital one. Last but not least is us and something we do; over-consumption. Let's start with the first one and work our way up.
Cultural and social change; the analog and digital world
Stealing used to be so easy to define; taking something (physical ) that is not yours. The law stated you're to be punished, and you were. The laws are based upon centuries of experience in the analog world. Then the digital world came along in the early 80's and late 90's that would change our society completely. We could send each other messages in mere seconds across the globe, buy that vintage jacket from someone in New Zealand, meeting people who share our interest online and share and download multimedia content. The world got a lot smaller.
Technology developed quickly and we upgraded from our 56K modem to cable or DSL with speeds that kept increasing. Our new DVD's and CD's could be played on our new computers with a 80Gb harddrive! And they could be copied and shared with friends. P2P networks like Napstar, KaZaA and others made it easy to download and upload music, then considered high speed connections made it fast and easy. Today it's even more easy to download; download your torrentfiles from the piratebay, sign up with an online filehoste or usenet provider and you can start downloading if you know where to find your files.
What did not develop so quickly was our definition of what stealing was. We still think of it as taking something from a store not clicking with our mouse pointer on the link to download the latest Metallica album if that's what you were looking for. Many laws were still analog, with the maker of the I Love You virus that hit us in 2000 going free because there was no law that forbade making a virus in the philipines. The copyright rules are, and still for the most part are analog.
So will this correct itself? In a few decades we'll have generations that did not grow up in the analog world, but the digital one where e-learning is seen as the preferred teaching method and computers are things that always have been there. These kids however are growing up now and the years to come; they ask daddy or mommy to download that new movie with that funny robot. So no, it will not correct itself, it will become mainstream, safe for the few that got educated in the definition of stealing. The source of this problem however is something else entirely;
Over-consumption is the magic word here. Many of us are living in a world based around entertainment. We want to listen to music, watch movies, play video-games and use countless forms of software products and services. Many of us have multiple favorite series they want to watch, and then there are these movies coming out this month that are so cool! These albums are the ones I've been waiting for, and look at that! the new Command & Conquer game and Photoshop CS4 are out.
Looking at this don't you find we are exaggerating a little, do we really need all of this? At an all you can eat diner you're likely to take a second plating, but you don't end up having eaten 25 full plates. Why do we do this with downloading? If you take a look at the wikipedia list of movies released in 2008
and count the movies you've watched you might be astonished. Look at the 2009 list
and see how many you are likely to see. Start thinking about which one's you really liked and others that were a waste of time.
My answers for 2008 are an estimated 54 movies seen of which 25 downloaded, 9 seen in cinema and about 20 on DVD. The number of cinema visits is only high because we went to the movies a lot during my lousy summer vacation. Otherwise it would have been 2 for cinema and 32 for downloads. Answers for 2009 are 16 movies i want to see, and was likely to download only looking at the titles. We are in the habit of being entertained.
You can say "But your a sad example! I don't download that much!" but still you do download, thousands upon millions of people do this, they download movies, buy the illegal copies from street vendors and are willing to share with friends and the world. We are addicted to entertainment, and because it can be pricey, but as an alternative obtained for free we download it. When we get bored we download a movie, instead of doing something more productive.
Sure you can argue "I did watch The Dark Knight, but would not have done it if I had to pay for it". But it's the same as going to an restaurant, order and eat your food and walk away stating you would not have eaten it if it was not for *insert reason*. We expect to get away with downloading using a digital example; but when you convert it to an analog one your just an ******* not paying someone for what they've made and offered to you for an (reasonable) price.
We expect to get away with downloading "just because". We approve of someone stealing a loaf of bread to feed him and his family, but we won't let him get away with stealing the non primary items needed to survive. Entertainment is not a primary need but a luxury that we are starting to exaggerate.
The industry can cope with people downloading movies, but keep it up long enough and the revenues disappear, movies get canceled, don't get made or talents go down the drain, just because 2 million people watched it in cinema, and 38 million downloaded it. I'm exaggerating this numbers for now; but it might not be the case in 2016 or so. It all the more counts for artists that are amazing but canned because 40.000 bought the CD and 360.000 copied and downloaded it online.
We can say "But i want to pay the artist not the record label! They are greedy", but don't forget they pay for recording, publishing, distribution, media attention and all other costs. Making a CD is cheap, but finding and managing a talent is not.
Funny thing is that I'm willing to pay for every episode of any series that I download but I am not given the opportunity because I don't live in The US or UK, and my country is always among the last to be supported. I still don't have the option to buy movies and series from iTunes, even though Apple is happily announcing improvements and new features from time to time. This of course brings us to our next item;
Wrong approach; Analog business in a digital world.
I have not been so nice for the people downloading movies, but i am neither for the movie and music industy. Leaving the software industry for another time.Paramount was founded in 1912, Fox in 1915 (altough the Fox we know today in 1990), Columbia in 1919, swallowed by sony in 1987. Warner Bros in 1918 (Part of Time Warner).. anyhow look at the wikipedia list found here
to see who one's who and who was founded when. EMI was founded in 1931, Polygram 1945, Universal Music Group build upon Decca Records founded in 1934, Sony being late in 1987 but big nonetheless. The main point is that these companies are old! They are founded in the analog age; all but Sony Music did analog business for decades and are somewhat conservative.
So when they noticed people getting music and movies for free they started defending themselves like anyone else would do; fighting back and forcing people back into their old ways. That's how we always did it. But it did not work, and 8 or 9 years later we are back where we were in 2000. Countless lawsuits, Fear Uncertainty Doubt (FUD) actions and annoying ads later. Some are giving up, others are launching their own shop, but still they are all acting as retarded as the people who comment on articles with above given comments.
They demand more money from iTunes, whilst they now receive 9 cents more a song then they would if someone would pirate it. They release it DRM free, but more expansive, start their own online shops (US only of course!) and launch campaigns against piracy that always backfire like the "You wouldn't steal a car etc" campaigns that are unskipable and placed on genuine DVD's. Depending on your country you have an additional warning from your local RIAA, a disclaimer from the movie company about the interviews and about 5 minutes of ads if you have a regular dvd and about 10 minutes of ads if you buy a Disney one.
And don't forget about the illegal one's that are of "lower quality" (i've had enough genuine factory damaged dvd's). Point taken, but a 700MB .AVI file or 4.3GB DVD does make a difference in quality. These campaigns don't work and are based on arguments that are just stupid, and we know we can do better.
Go and make sure there are international rules governing licencing and copyright, at least in the Western part of the world since Russia and China don't care about laws and copyright. It will make launching online services much easier and Europe not the last one to get a 2 year old service like iTunes Movies. If there is a problem facilitate it! don't fight it with lawyers and money.
If you don't like Apple's rules; start your own services collectively
and let us share in the pleasure. Release it worldwide; protect it if you need to; but support all systems, keep the system open and transparent. CSS was broken because someone just wanted to watch their DVD on their Linux based OS, not because they wanted to ruin you. Support it, even if it is with binary codecs, Richard Stallman will call you evil, but many other linux users won't. They'll love you for it. Supporting Linux, Windows and Mac would cost, yes, ut so does sueing everybody, and the latter doesn't solve the problem only the symptoms.
Keep movies at reasonable prices; 17,99 for new DVD is to high if you can buy it half a year later for 9,99 or download it for free within a few mouse clicks and a fast internet connection. Work together when building a new business model; you're in it together. If Sony has problems with piracy, so does Warner Time and Paramount.
Don't sue YouTube about users that upload your content; facilitate it. There is a demand! Don't sue people for putting a song you own under their montage of homevideo's. I've discovered countless artists, and bought CD's or MP3's because of it. When I watched a part of Hard Candy online I went out and bought the dvd at 17,99. I can understand raiding a place that copies your music at a massive scale, i can understand arresting street vendors for selling copies. But seuing people just because they used your song under their montage on a low quality YouTube movie (at the time!)
Don't be the evil companies that we see you as now, be the nice companies that give us entertainment once again. We know making movies costs money and you need profit, and we are still willing to pay you for it; The Dark Knight was worth us about 1 billion in worldwide revenue, the DVDs sold out instantly in Europe and so will other movies and CDs.
In conclusion we as pirates are just being unfair. We pay for our food at the restaurant, why not for our entertainement. We also have to look at our addication of being entertained and act wisely on it. The companies need to wake up and start living in the digital world. We won't go analog again and you are keeping yourself from flourishing in the digital age. Give us clean media free of warnings and disclaimers, give us entertainement on demand and give it at a reasonable price. We're not evil, neither are you but we just have our problems. We'll work it out. I know we will.