An interesting story today in the National – setting a new precedent in the UAE (potentially the region) the Abu Dhabi Government in conjunction with OSN (satellite network) have fined an individual $1 million.
Noted, this wasn’t an average pirating individual (and lots of people do it, the report notes that OSN alone believes it loses $500 million a year due to piracy) but an individual who had a website set-up to actually share this content for free. But the fine is hefty, and I’m sure will go some way to start to deter others from taking similar action.
The music industry, and now the film/TV, have taken a fairly aggressive stance to piracy – understandably – as it’s the lifeblood of their traditional business model. We’ve seen other large fines, in Minnesota for example an average pirating lady was fined $2 million for listening to pirated mp3’s (a judge later deemed this ridiculous and reduced to $53,000). In the UK, content owners have pressured ISP”s to take action and have throttled the bandwidth of avid sharers of free content, and many have received letters and court fines. Other tactics had seen (although never admitted) music content owners flooding p2p (file sharing sites) with corrupted fles and files with viruses to deter those that steal.
However, I can’t help feel that this is an old-world solution to a new world problem. Fines and going after individuals may act as a deterrent to a minority for sure, but realistically is like trying to find one grain of sand in a desert. I don’t believe anyone has found the answer yet, but it does, I feel require content owners/creators to recognize that the world will never be the same again and to understand that their business models need to adapt or die. If people are buying a non-physical product then why should it cost the same price as a CD or DVD (there is no manufacturing/shipping/retail costs)? People don’t want to pay that much, but I believe a majority would be willing to pay a more appropriate price for the product (I know I would).
At the same time, DRM (digital rights management) doesn’t for me work; or is certainly a short-term view to the issue. People want their content (especially if they purchase it) to work on any of their devices, they also don’t see an issue with wanting to share it with friends/family.
Some good things I’ve seen from content owners/distributors:
- the music industry recognizing (some of it) that the LIVE experience is now the most valuable asset, and music is the best calling card. Bands/Act’s have now provided music for free and in deed some see piracy as a good way of spreading their fan base, to then charge high-ticket prices for concerts.
- Bands, such as Radiohead, have provided a pay-what-you-feel-its-worth promotion on new Albums
- Itunes, introduced the pay for what you really want approach to music – breaking albums down into 0.99c tracks, encouraging people to view music as a playlist
- Freemium models on content, providing content for free in exhange for advertising (that can’t be skipped/removed). A great example of that is the cheapest Kindle which provides the hardware at a discount in return for ad banners on the screen
- The power of live. Shows like Xfactor have reintroduced destination television – majority of viewers watch that show live for fear of having the results ruined but more importantly so they can then activate social media to chat to friends about the show/during the show. Advertising consumption and branded content around Xfactor is particularly high/successful
- Branded content; content owners working with brands for sponsored shows or co-created shows (that way the content owner already secures revenue for the product before it’s even released/sent out into the world)
- Streaming/Renting – Lovefilm and itunes (there are other services but these are two I’ve used) both now have very easy rent functions on video content. For $3.99 I can, within 10mins, download and watch a film in HD. When it’s this easy and this painless why would I bother using a torrent/p2p site
So the answer my friends, I believe, is yet to be discovered but is some combination of the factors above. If content is priced correctly, and is of high quality and the method of using it easy then I feel confident people will pay for it. I know I would