First Portion of Feet Kickin’…

has begun and will continue Friday and Monday.

Wherein the Author comtemplates his demise.

The inevitable failing of the blog is the semi-coherent railing against a topic of little interest to the populace at large.  These posts consist of ill informed ranting composed by an author with, at best, a surface understanding of the subject’s deep intricacies.  With unintentional comedy the highest expectation, the reader consumes it reluctantly if at all.  Constituting a shrill death knell, the blog’s readership typically dips to next to nothing  That or the ranting strikes a chord with disenfranchised loonies.

With that gamble in mind I look to bolster falling readership numbers with a three part series of my own area of in-expertise:  Intellectual Property.  Specifically, I look to restrict my howling mad ravings to piracy and discuss it in three parts.  For the first part, I will talk about the uncontroversial assertion that file sharing is a real thing that business cannot sue away.  Next I will suggest that piracy itself is not morally reprehensible, something I imagine people will roundly disagree with.  Finally I point out that there are a plethora of ways to utilize piracy to earn a living.  Shocking, I know!

Quick ground rules:  Piracy is not stealing.  Stealing deprives someone of a physical good, piracy is simply making a copy of something.  If you steal a CD, I cannot buy it.  If I make a copy of a CD, you still may purchase it.  Secondly, not all file sharing is piracy.  There are numerous non-infringing uses for file sharing such as Linux install distribution, freely released content, software patches, and distribution of public domain content.  To name but a few.

The argument:  Piracy is a reality that will not go away.  The support:  That file sharing is not decreasing and that no DRM has ever proven effective.  If you cannot stop people from taking your content, copying it and making it available to a wide audience, then you cannot stop piracy.  Following this, I will introduce that business models must change, which will be fleshed out in the third installment.

So, is file sharing in general and piracy in specific decreasing?  No. Not really.  It’s a story of increasing futility.  Napster shut down?  eDonkey, Kazaa, Limewire and a hundred others spring up.  Shutdown Grokster?  Pirate Bay and the rise of BitTorrent.  Pirate Bay sort of hamstrung?  Just about a million new sites pop up.  Thus far, it’s proven extremely difficult to make any head way in curbing piracy. Lawsuits have proven ineffective, as had attacking the distribution enablers.  It’s almost as if the landscape has changed and no amount of wishing will return it to the way it was.  The fact of the matter is that distributed file sharing is relatively simple software to write and has a huge audience.  This means that there is virtually no limit of people who will write new programs to replace the ones that are taken down.  It’s like a Sisyphean Ordeal where the hill just keeps getting higher.  The fact that the boulder rolls down to the bottom every night is almost pointless behind the fact that it can no longer be rolled to the top.

Well, then maybe you can stop piracy before it goes out the door, by defeating your customers with DRM.  Whoops, no you can’t.  In fact, DRM usually just worsens the experience for the legitimate customer.  Sometimes with big consequences.  The fact is, every DRM can be cracked (sometimes with laughable ease).  Couple this with the ease of finding those cracks (simple Google search will do) and you begin to see the enormity of the problem.  The fundamentals of this situation lie in the fact that DRM is created by humans.  If it helps, think of home security.  If you lock your doors and windows, do you think that will keep someone out?  What if you put bars and a security alarm in?  Can you think of no way around those defences?  DRM is a security riddle asked by twelve guys who work for Sony to the entire world population.  Someone is gonna find the answer.

You can’t keep people from getting unfettered access to your content.  You also can’t stop them from distributing it to the rest of the world.  The question you should be asking yourself is, do you want to?  The main complaint from the industry and artists that cannot adapt is that, “You cannot compete with free”.  Why can’t you?  DVD sales compete with TV and have for a long time, yet TV is free.  How do they do this?  Does no one purchase seasons of Family Guy because they can watch it for free on network television?  The foundation of this competition is the difference between cost and value.  Just because something has a cost, does not mean it has a value.  If you live in the desert, a $150 Northface jacket is valueless to you, as is a Speedo to an Inuit.  If you can offer something that is more valuable than the free item, people will buy it.  A season of Family Guy affords you the control over when to watch it, plus it collects all of the episodes into one season.  Ownership in and of itself is a valued commodity.  Business models must adapt to the change and studies show that they can profit from piracy.

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About schion65

Is as dangerously dashing as he is handsome.
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11 Responses to First Portion of Feet Kickin’…

  1. Tim says:

    All I know is… all this Netflix and streaming has taken away one of the easiest go-to gifts: DVDs. Damn it!

    • schion65 says:

      Agreed! You can always take my tack, buy a terrible movie that is hopefully hilarious. Chances are Netflix doesn’t stream it and even late night FX won’t play Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. You’re golden. 🙂

  2. Megs says:

    Ramble ramble ramble…

  3. Kevin Brennan says:

    I think piracy is one of the hardest to combat things. I don’t imagine it will ever go away, it currently is much easier to simply download stuff and saves on a lot of annoyances. The biggest fighter of it I think is honestly Red Box and Netflix, both provide access very quickly, cheaply and consistently.

    Also one of the funniest quotes is “you wouldn’t download a car would you”, which is hilarious to me because I am pretty sure that people would torrent a car if it was possible.

    • schion65 says:

      Competing with free is something that every business can do. Agreed that Netflix and Red Box do a good job of it, but there’s a lot of businesses that incorporate free file sharing as advertising. This makes your expenses lower and allows you to sell more of the high value items.

      Any artist will tell you it’s worse to be unknown, free advertising like this makes it easier to avoid that.

      • Kevin Brennan says:

        The stupid thing about stealing music is that I am pretty sure the artist make more from concerts and merchandise. The fact of stealing may help by getting their name out there.

      • schion65 says:

        Yes, most artists that successfully monetize their music do so with concerts. However, that is not the only way to do it. Popular and relatively unknown groups both have managed a great deal of success using other models. Which I will discuss a bit in the third installment. 🙂

  4. Lily A says:

    I actually read the Huffington Post, and rather enjoy the comments 😐

    • schion65 says:

      Fair enough. 🙂 Though you must admit they don’t necessarily represent a balanced view. I think the best you can hope for in a publication/blog is to find something orthogonal to what their main view is. So, the Economist is pro-business, that means that other aspects they don’t have a vested interest. In this case, they come off as leftish and pro-rights. If you read about them concerning business, they’ll tell you soul crushing profits-only mindsets are only damaging if they’re exposed. So kill anyone who witnesses you buying seal fur with pension funds.

  5. Charles says:

    How the fuck did you get my socks?!

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