Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pirating! Writers, just ignore it!

I've got an unpopular view towards pirating.  Just ignore it!

The video game industry really got smacked by pirated games.  Whether it was via burned CDs, Software Emulators, or the sale of used games.

Over the last ten years, the video game industry has come to realize they cannot stop what is occuring, and they've embraced a new model.  Free to download.  Free to play.

They tried all the crazy DRM and other gimmicks trying to protect their software, but nothing can offer the security to stop pirating.  Content creators have shifted their business models to make money via ingame purchases in small amounts instead of frontloading their return on investment via the purchase of a $60 game.  Authors don't really have the option of adding purchasable cotent inside of a book so how can this possibly relate?

The business model behind this system has two main parts. 

1-Get the software into as many people's hands as possible. 
2-The people who enjoy the game will purchase items from the ingame store.

If authors and publishers chose to ignore pirating, this is the exact sort of system that would take over the publishing industry. 

1-We would be trying to get our work into as many people's hands as possible (this is what we really want right?  If 1,000 people pirated my book but then each told five other people they liked it, I would probably see a few extra sales)
2-The true fans, as well as those of us with morals, will purchase books the proper way.

No matter how many DMCA notices an author submits, or how many lawsuits get brought against websites that spread pirating, nothing will stop pirating.  As a matter of fact, the idea behind pirating is the precise model of the library system.

1-Buy a copy of the book.
2-Distribute that book to the community for free.

So why haven't authors and publishers tried to shutdown library systems for years?

I'm sure everyone knows somebody who refuses to pay for books when they can get them for free from the library.  Pirates function with this exact same mentality.  What would that someone do if their local library closed?  They probably wouldn't read books, or, they would go to the next cheapest source, buying second hand books.

Either way, the author wouldn't get a sale.

Somehow, the greed infested music and movie industries bored into the skulls of the masses and planted the idea, Inception style, that every pirated download is a sale lost.  It isn't.  Before the internet, people who loved songs on the radio but refused to buy the albums used tape recorders.  People who loved TV shows and Movies but were too cheap to buy them would record the program on a VCR.

The only difference between 20-years ago and today, is pirating is slightly easier and it can be tracked.  The music industry can pretend all it wants that people used to not pirate songs and movies prior to the invention of Napster, but that's false.  Isn't it common for movies, set in the 80's and 90's, with young love interests, to include a mix tape, often as a cliche romantic trope?  THAT MIXTAPE IS PIRATING!

Don't get me wrong, I don't condone pirating, but nobody can stop someone who wants to pirate.  If their source (Torrents) are somehow magically cut-off, they will find new mediums to pirate.  Each pirated copy of an E-Book, Song, or Movie isn't a lost sale.  It's a sale that never existed in the first place.  Instead of writing those DMCA notices, content creators around the world need to focus on creating new content.  Then they can generate those repeat sales and make a living off their work.

Don't agree with me?  I'd love to hear counter arguments!


Anonymous said...

Interesting thought! I like it because it is going in the direction of "accepting what is" and not being judgmental

Crystal Collier said...

I've found the more generous you are (the more of an audience you can reach) the higher your likelihood of building a following. The Indie Publishing model is amazing--offering a first ebook for free in order to hook readers and get them to purchase a sequel. (I'll even admit it's worked on me a few times.) That said, industry pro's who have put in their dues and devoted much of their lives to an art deserve the larger paycheck.

I don't think giving in to criminal activity benefits the public. (Just like legalizing marijuana would cause more problems than it solves.) Gatekeepers should still do what they can to protect artist's work and rights, but artists who are up and coming need to be wise in how they approach the market, and not so tightfisted that they lose a potential audience before establishing one.