miércoles, 28 de febrero de 2007

I Love Piracy


I have been reaping the benefits of piracy for a while now. Ever since I discovered downloading music off of peer-to-peer fire sharing sites like Napster, Kazaa and Limewire, I have been addicted. Downloading music is one of my favorite things to do. I can spend hours looking up new bands, seeing if any of their songs are good and then ripping CDs. Threats from record labels to sue peer-to-peer file sharers on these programs has hardly deterred me from continuing to download. Youtube also has been a great source to find rare episodes of shows or chunks of stand up comedian’s routines to watch to pass the time; but it too has been under attack for letting subscribers upload copyrighted material for others to see. And now more recently, since I’ve been living in Mexico for the last month and a half, I have discovered a new love that is buying pirated DVDs off of the street.
There are a lot of people who criticize piracy, namely the FBI, but does piracy really hurt anyone? If so, then how come so many bands willingly put their songs on the internet to be downloaded for free? And does Youtube and pirated movies really pose that much of a threat to the movie and entertainment industry? More than anything it poses a threat to the record labels and entertainment companies, and who gives a crap about them?
Musicians put their music on the internet to download for free because, as Tim O'Reilly puts it, "Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy". In a recent blog by Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, he explains the musician’s mindset in giving away their music for free, with the goal of making more money from their live shows. “They [the artists] understand the difference between abundance and scarcity economics,” says Anderson, “Digital products enjoy near-zero costs of production and distribution--classic abundance economics. When costs are near zero, you might as well make the price zero, too, something thousands of bands have figured out. Meanwhile, the one thing that you can't digitize and distribute with full fidelity is a live show. That's scarcity economics. No wonder the average price for a ticket was $61 last year, up 8%. In an era when digital products are commodities, there's a premium on experience. No surprise that bands are increasingly giving away their recorded music as marketing for their concerts, which offer something no MP3 can match.” And there is big money in live shows as well. 92% of the Rolling Stones' revenues come from their performances, not recorded music. Sadly for the labels, they don't get any of it. No wonder they're so against free music. It only helps the bands and the consumers.
Shortly after Google invested billions in acquiring Youtube, the video uploading and downloading website, it announced that its users were watching over 100 million videos per day. Then three days after celebrating this traffic milestone, the popular video sharing site was hit with a lawsuit alleging that Youtube allows users to upload and view copyrighted video. Youtube instructs its users not to upload copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder or without the rights to do so. But because of the sheer number of videos and massive daily traffic, that admonition is widely ignored and kids like me can have a treasure trove of stuff to watch. There are many things that keep Youtube from taking over the industry any time soon. First of all, the size of the video that can be uploaded is limited making the quality of anything that is too long highly diminished. So no one is about to watch entire movies on the website. Most videos are under five minuets. Also watching snippets of TV shows or stand up comedians are like appetizers to get you to want to buy and watch the real thing. Once again this helps the artists and customers and leaves the CEOs of the entertainment conglomerates behind.
And now we come to pirated movies. True, selling pirated movies on a large scale, as is the case in Mexico, does break the law and may keep people from buying the real movie. But if you’re a big fan of the movie that you want to buy, you won’t get the pirated version. Many of the pirated movies that are sold are really, really bad quality. The quality is equivalent to someone holding a camcorder in a theater, and having people standup in front of the screen to go get popcorn. With everyone being so into high definition and surround sound these days, pirated movies will never be satisfactory. They also never have the supplement material of commentaries or deleted scenes that store bought DVDs provide. I justify my buying of pirated movies by the following: I would rather help Juan on the street buy food for his family by buying his 20 peso DVD than pay 20 dollars for an overpriced movie that just stuffs money into the already over stuffed pockets of 20th century fox or any other billion dollar movie conglomerate.
So yes, some people are hurt because of piracy, manly the record labels and big movie studios. Their backlash to peer to peer file sharing programs and websites like Youtube are more due to them realizing that the monopoly they once had at controlling what everyone watched and listened to is quickly slipping. They have grown rigid and stale in their progression and if they would learn to adapt to the changing way that the public is being entertained they would devise plans the innovate technology to better please the public instead of holding tighter to their old ways. I could care less about these rich fat cats at the top so I’m not about to stop enjoying my piracy any time soon.

11 comentarios:

Seth dijo...

This post makes piracy sound a lot like Robin Hood's "rob from the rich and give to the poor." Unfortunately, I don't think you or Robin Hood are on the right track. The main point is that music/software/any other piracy is illegal.
The Lord has stated quite explicitly "Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land" (D&C 58:21) and "if he or she shall steal, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land." (D&C 42:85)
The fact is that the big music companies have a right to receive compensation for the music they own. We do not have a right to steal it from them.
If you don't think the price for the music is fair then there are several legal ways to show dissent. The primary method is boycott. Simply do not buy music for what you feel is an unfair price. You stated your self that there are many bands that put out their music for free. That's great! Download their music, support these bands who make their music freely available.
If you must resist "the powers that be" (the giant media companies) please do it legally. A covenant to keep the commandments of God include the injunction to keep the laws of the land.

Anónimo dijo...

Great article. Don't let all this boycott crap deter you! Download, man!

Anónimo dijo...

so seth: God doesnt want us to break the laws of the land...but what if those laws are AGAINST God and against the bible??? Im sorry, I dont buy into this bible BS. The law is NOT a moral authority, it is a coercive authority. Anti-piracy laws are designed to promote the financial interests of corporations and since Im not part of, or an owner of a corporation, corporate interests are NOT my interests!

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