August 14, 2011
Comments Off on The Pirates
“The Pirate Bay website made money by illegally offering major-label albums, even as music sales declined to less than half of what they were 10 years ago.” The Guardian, Sunday 14 August 2011
I don’t think The Pirate Bay actually offers anything. I think it’s a mistake to compare it to a flea market with stalls selling illegal cd’s or dvd’s. The Pirate Bay is more akin to a bulletin board linking those who have and those who want. Where the products being linked to initially is interesting – what compels someone to buy something and then give it away for free? Especially something they haven’t produced themselves? And if an artist creates something but gives it away, what is the moral position on someone else then giving it away for free?
When newspapers give away DVD’s of films, they must have paid the film companies something. But the consumer gets something for a fraction of what it would have cost to have bought it. “Let Him Have It” is currently on Amazon.co.uk for around a fiver. But I have a copy from a newspaper that cost me a pound or so. Did the newspaper make up the difference?
A newspaper must have seen that cost as worth it to get me to try their paper, in a way that is similar to an artist giving away something they have created to gain publicity. Cory Doctorow, for example. You can buy his books – which I have – and you can download his books for free – which I have. In some cases I have done both; a copy of his book on my shelf, but a copy on my Kindle to re-read.
But I think it’s a mistake to compare The Pirate Bay to that model. They aren’t a flea market stall selling other people’s books and films for their own gain. They have stepped in between someone with something and someone who wants something, and profit from it. But to say they don’t do it at a cost to themselves is wrong – servers and court costs and time. That all costs. But they must profit from it, or else they would have stopped.
“[The] problem is rampant piracy unauthorised distribution that doesn’t benefit creators or the companies that invest in them. It also puts pressure on media companies to accept online distribution deals that don’t cover their costs.” The Guardian, Sunday 14 August 2011
What we need is for the people producing what people want to be able to offer a means redistribution that enables them to gain again. They shouldn’t have to accept a means that doesn’t cover their costs, but to ignore finding a solution while they fight those in court who profit from it illegally is a mistake.
“People who illegally download music from the internet also spend more money on music than anyone else, according to a new study.” – Independent, Sunday, 1 November 2009
I believe people who can pay want to pay, and those who can’t never will. You prosecute shoplifters, yes, but you keep prices competitive and reasonable to enable those who want to shop to buy. To punish people who try something for free but who are also potential customers is a mistake. I think that the study that found that some of the biggest pirates are also some of the biggest legal consumers shows that products given away for free in the hope that a consumer will then buy that product in the future is a better approach that locking your product away in DRM.
Steal This Comic, XKCD
Ginger Wildheart: The Triple Album Project
Take The Wildhearts. I first heard them from a friend who have ripped a cd and gave me the mp3’s. I then downloaded a few more albums. And then went on to buy the albums, and see the band live more times than I can remember, and buy t-shirts, and be one of the 2335 people who are funding Ginger’s current Pledge Music project sight unseen (or unheard). Should Ginger (the singer of the Wildhearts) have to give away his music for free? No. He needs to earn a living. But should he worry about someone illegally giving away a copy of the cd for free once we have all paid for it and it has been produced? I think not. For all the illegal downloads there is publicity and potential new fans. Not everyone of them, but then I don’t buy every albums of every artist I hear on the radio. But the ones I hear that I like and do I think would prefer I became a future fan than having the music they created be securely locked down and unheard on the off chance that one day I randomly decide to pay the full price and give them a try.
Subhumans, Underworld, Camden
We just need to find different means of linking those who want and those who create. And I hope that the film studios who pay directors and actors and sound engineers step up and find a better way of doing that then letting sites like The Pirate Bay do that instead. If we can get a film or TV show or album from them instead as easily and effortlessly as we can from The Pirate Bay, then illegal sites may always exist, but I think they will become irrelevant. I can’t remeber the last time I swopped mp3’s with someone. Now I send them a Spotify link – a service I pay for, although I understand that the artists gain a fraction of what they could from an album sale from Spotify, but have faith – I go to your gigs and buy t-shirts.
How much do music artists earn online?
By the way, I wrote this in response to the Guardian article “How the internet has all but destroyed the market for films, music and newspapers“. I pay to receive the Guardian (and Observer) daily on a Kindle. And it doesn’t come with a free DVD.