“Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it.”
…brb, hunting down Jonathan Coulton so I can propose marriage, swear fealty, or at least offer him tea and dumplings. Or we could all just go buy his music.
…followed up with a whole lot of smart things.
Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it. There’s your anti-piracy plan. The big content companies are TERRIBLE at doing both of these things, so it’s no wonder they’re not doing so well in the current environment. And right now everyone’s fighting to control distribution channels, which is why I can’t watch Star Wars on Netflix or iTunes. It’s fine if you want to have that fight, but don’t yell and scream about how you’re losing business to piracy when your stuff isn’t even available in the box I have on top of my TV. A lot of us have figured out how to do this.
And if you can stand me sounding even crazier, here is this: making money from art is not a human right. It so happens that technological and societal blahbity bloos have conspired to create a situation where selling songs about monkeys and robots is a viable business, but for most of human history people have NOT paid for art. I don’t want this to happen again, and I would be very sad if this came to pass, but it’s not up to me to decide. We are constantly demonstrating through our actions what we believe to be the norms for acquiring and consuming content. Right now a lot of us think that it’s OK to download stuff through illegal sites under certain circumstances, and a lot of us think it’s totally fine to use those things to make videos and put them on YouTube even though YouTube profits from it. That’s not ME saying that, that’s US saying that – we’re a nation of pirates and infringers. Based on our behavior, you would not be wrong to deduce that some of us think funny videos on YouTube are more important than honoring intellectual property rights. This kind of thing has happened before. Entire industries rise and fall as the world changes and our priorities shift. Sorry.
I believe in copyright. I benefit from it. I don’t want it to go away. I love that we have laws and people to enforce them. But if I had to give up one thing, if I had to choose between copyright and the wild west, semi-lawless, innovation-fest that is the internet? I’ll take the internet every time.
Andrew Cushing at Techdirt has some good things to add:
Equating casual infringement with lost sales has always been a terrible assumption, but without this key bit of theoretical math, the RIAA/MPAA would be unable to make hysterical claims about job losses, overseas robber barons and Megaupload absconding with a half-billion of their cash.
In honor of all this, a YouTube video:
I have a lot of THOUGHTS on this, and specifically on book piracy, but that post has been distilling for a while and has yet to be properly poured into a presentable shape. Sometime soon, though. It matters.