Piracy – Dealing with a niggling issue of the internet this decade.

There are many cultural transformations taking place right now, due to the pervasiveness of the internet. Many established business practices are changing either to take advantage of the internet or because the internet is forcing them to change to survive.

Media companies, of all types have had to find new ways of working. Newpapers (the ones that have survived so far) have had to find ways to make money outside of just printing copies on paper. While movie companies and the music industry are slowly moving from terrified laggards towards embracing the possibilities of online distribution. Slowly but surely cinemas are moving to digital distribution of films, actually getting out of printing and shipping celluloid, and instead downloading high res digital copies directly to the cinemas.

The end of the movie rental shop is upon us, as people move from browsing shelves to browsing the itunes store. The people who prefer to “own:” or “pickup” a DVD from a video shop are slowly aging to the point where they don’t visit the shops often enough to make them viable.

The issue of piracy has been with us since people would listen to a new opera and hand write the words and music they heard to sell on the street. Every child and student from the 60’s onwards has “bootleg-ed” and today there are millions of copied movies available for download from the internet.

The challenge is that if movies are placed outside of the range of a potential viewer, then these viewers will find other ways to get them. This applies to price, censorship, regional availability or any other limiting factor. I’ve tried and failed to get movies downloaded onto a multitude of devices from many sites (a range of on-demand services and amazon), and if it wasn’t for itunes and the i-range of apple devices I would probably have given up and carried on either buying DVD’s and ripping them to my computer (legal) or if I couldn’t get them that way downloading them from the internet (illegal).

I still have an issue getting non-us movies legally in the US. I really like a lot of the output of the UK, France and Australia, but it can be really difficult to get these online. I have a multi-region DVD player (not called a DVD player as the title DVD actually is protected but if you don’t use the name its legal, go figure!) and purchase disks from other countries for this purpose. But many TV shows just are not available, and it’s really frustrating. I’d be happy to pay to get them online, but the possibility of selling a license to a company in the US at some point in the future, stops companies allowing us to do this, even when they haven’t sold a license for viewing in the US! (and often never will)

The point here is that if you make it easy for people to get movies legally , nearly everyone will. But when businesses makes it difficult then people will take the path of least resistance.

The same goes for the music industry. Pandora, spotify and their ilk are really great. They allow you to listen to music whenever you have the internet. But there are times when I don’t have the internet (travelling abroad, driving in the boonies, on a plane or a subway) and for these times I do download music. Again I use iTunes for this. In the old days I used to buy CD’s and have nearly a thousand of the buggers. The space they consume is horrendous, and so I now prefer downloading songs from iTunes. The new service from apple called iTunes match is fantastic. It has allowed me to create a library of all the music I own (CD’s and downloaded from itunes) and use it on all my i-devices at a very good bitrate, and I can download the ones I want to listen to dead zones. I can afford my music and so see no reason to pirate.

But that’s the issue; I choose to get my movies and music legally, because I like the services available and the quality of the product.

I came to my conclusion to be legal because it works for me. If I couldn’t afford music or the music I wanted wasn’t available to me for regional reasons or censorship or age related reasons I may well have made another choice.

Wake up media industry, think like a consumer, make it easy to be legal and people will.

When you use the law to fight your consumers you actually create a sub-culture that thrives in “putting it to the man”, and you actually create more piracy. Play nice.

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