On piracy

November 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Recently there’s been a lot of clamping down on filesharing websites. The music and movie industries believe that they’re losing masses of income through people downloading copies of their productions. Those pirating feel that those industries take enough of their hard-earned cash, through various means, and should stop crying about file-sharing.

Piracy differs from theft in that the loss of physical property differs to the duplication of media files. According to Wikipedia the term “piracy” predates the digital era and “has been used since 1603 to refer to unauthorised copying, distribution and selling of works in copyright” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement). What’s important for us to recognise is that there is a difference between acts of copyright intentionally committed for financial gain and accessing and sharing media for private/personal use.

What people on either side of the practices often fail to take into consideration is the other party.

Two values need to receive equal weighting:

  1. One one hand the publisher is devalued by piracy. The originator (or packager, publisher, distributor) of media needs to be reimbursed. This is important because the costs associated with producing the original media can be high. The cost of publishing and distributing is, however, reduced considerably with virtual media (comparative to physical media).
  2. On the other hand the viewer is devalued by the media industries. The viewer’s lifestyle needs to be valued and not just their money. There are various traditional media outlets – movie theatres, packaged products, media channels – that worked in the past. The problem is that they’re not current, they’re based on physical media (like CD’s and DVD’s) and public institutions (like TV and Radio stations). We need more creative solutions, like iTunes, to deliver digital content to the various screen destinations of users.

It is the second issue that bothers me most (understandably, as I am a consumer). In the past I would purchase physical media like CD’s and DVD’s for music, movies and series. This presented several downsides. From having to region like my DVD player through to the bulkiness of physical media through to the wastage of my time resulting from poorly laid out menus and unskippable warnings and adverts. Movies and series watched on TV are similarly problematic. Usually the times they’re on are inconvenient and I’m not willing to let my schedule be a hostage to their schedule. In addition, I’m not interested in having my entertainment liberally peppered with adverts.

No thank you.

I’d rather download my music, TV series and movies or convert them or convert my physical media to digital versions.• This means that I’m able to access them on whichever device I prefer (iPad, on my TV via my digital media player, or my laptop) at a time (between or after work) and place when I’m happy to watch them (at my desk, on my couch, in bed, in transit).

While media companies devalue the people who are their customers file-sharing will continue in ways that are financially detrimental to them. An alternative model would suffice, whether subscription or micro-transaction based (iTunes would be great except that TV Series and Movies aren’t available in my country).

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• For the legal trolls out there this statement is expressive and entirely theoretical and not acknowledgement of any the mentionable infringables related to copyright infringement ;-)

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