So it would seem I’m still able to choose. A lot of people, from hackers to silicon valley billionaires, have weighed in on this topic. I suppose the only reason I’m writing about it is because, in my opinion, I think most seem to have missed the point. Technically, I’m still able to choose between pirating or buying copyrighted digital content. Technically, I said, I still have options. Legally, of course, there is the right way and the wrong way. The problem, I suppose, is that I pretty consistently choose the wrong way. I’m not going to sit here and write about why piracy is okay. I don’t believe it is.
What I will write about, instead, is why I think the MPAA and the RIAA, and their international equivalents, have missed the point. The problem is pretty clearly understood, but the way they’ve gone about trying to fix it is wrong. As far as I can tell, governments haven’t been able to fix much of anything lately. Let me clearly articulate the matter for our friends in Hollywood. A lot of people like your stuff, but internet pirates offer a distribution model that is somewhat easy, provides many different types of format options, and of course, is free. Hollywood doesn’t.
So what do they do? As opposed to showing some ingenuity and entrepreneurialism, you know, like the pirates, they run to the authorities to clamp down on the internet. I guess that’s one way to go about it, but what if those laws passed, and someone claimed their movies contained infringed-upon IP rights? You’d think the last thing Hollywood would want to do is to mess around with laws that could engender censorship. Like I said, the pirates are beating them at their mass media game by leveraging technology better than they are. Here’s a few thoughts:
- Make It Cheap: Let me get this right. With digital content, there’s no costs for raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, labour, shipping, and retail markup, as is the case for CD’s and DVD’s. Yet, I’m still expected to pay $10.00 for an album or $25 for a movie? C’mon. Consumers are dumb, but we’re not that dumb. Make it $2.00 for an album, and $4.00 for a movie. Sales will rocket, and piracy plummet. It’s just good business sense.
- Make It Awesome: So once I buy your $4.00 movie, I should be able to select as many different formats as I want, like avi, mp4, mkv, whatever. Always with the options for mobile, etc. Same goes for music. Why do I only get 256 kbps m4a files on iTunes, when I can get 320 kbps or FLAC files on the Pirate Bay or isohunt? Give me the best quality. Sales will rocket, and piracy plummet…
- Make It Open: Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a problem. You need it because you haven’t fixed the other two issues above. I should be able to download as many different types/formats of the content as I want, once I’ve purchased it. I should be able to make copies to put on mp3 players, tablets, or other computers. I should be able to give a flash drive to my friend (just like a music CD or DVD) with the files. If I don’t want to download it, I should be able to stream it to any device with an internet connection anytime / anywhere (iCloud, yes I know, but it should work on non-Apple devices too). Sales will rocket, and… well, you get the point.
Of course, there’s tons of other things Hollywood could do to make what they provide easier and better than internet piracy sites, but they’re either too ignorant or too greedy. Likely both. You can’t blame Apple or the other distributors for the prices either. The root is the production companies. I want to support the artists and movies I like, but I also have a fundamental issue with being taken advantage of. They can try to take away the choice, and it might work for a little while. Another idea might be instead to show some of that innovation and acumen that made you successful in the first place. Beat the pirates at their own technology game, and people (who mostly want to do the right thing) will support you.