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Piracy Fuelled by RIAA/MPAA

Rights Management creates piracy, it’s a pretty simple statement but something that the RIAA doesn’t want to accept. After all when you can get a $1.92M damages award for 24 downloaded songs why would you. When I read this article about the ugly DRM on Amazon’s Kindle it’s time people started to understand.

Economics has a basic tenet, that supply equals demand. Or in other words, where there’s a demand, a supply will emerge to meet that demand.

Therefore, if somebody in Europe wants to watch Pixar’s latest movie, they’ll find a way. Demand creates the supply chain. Because the movie company wants to maximize their returns around the world they sell the movie to different distributors and have different marketing campaigns. They also have DVD region coding to further restrict the market so they can dictate when movies are released. In the simplest terms, they’re using rights management techniques and technologies to fatten their bottom line, at the expense of the public’s wishes. Ordinarily we accept these restrictions but with the Internet, digital media and the contraction of the world into a few clicks we want it now. The World we live in today is one of immediacy and one where technology brings people together. You only have to watch the Iranian election fallout on Twitter to see freedom powered by technology.

So because industry wants to restrict our ability to satisfy our demands, an alternative approach has emerged and it’s called piracy. Every technology can be broken and nobody has made an inpenetrable technology, if they did nobody would buy it. Can you imagine buying a car that is allowed to be deactivated by the police or the insurance company? Nobody would want it, a black market would emerge that bypassed the system and there’d be a way around it. If the restrictions imposed are not morally acceptable by the majority of the people it will not take. This is where we’re at today in the way over movies, music and books.

I understand why I may have to pay more for a CD in a music store than a digital download. There’s a whole distribution chain involved and a store infrastructure to pay for but why is my digital download so expensive. With Kindle’s DRM it’s actually going to cost more for an ebook than the physical copy if you have to download it multiple times. Let just tear down more trees then and buy the books.

Most people are happy to pay a fair price for an electronic copy of a product but I don’t see why we’re being gouged and expected to pay for a business model that doesn’t work. I told music people 20 years ago that their model needed to change, their response was that they’d win through legal action and enforcement. I told the magazine industry 10 years ago that their industry was next to be attacked, they thought I was crazy.

My daughter just watched the Much Music Video Awards and was really disappointed with the live performance of one group. I explained that this was the problem today, the music you hear is not really performed by a group, it actually owes most of its success to the production team at the recording studio and the computer programmers that tweak every note to make it perfect. This is why we don’t want to pay for music today, it’s not worth much and it’s certainly not worth paying all of those people involved, i.e. the writers, publishers, distributors, etc.

Music will never die but I do think it’s changing and if anything it’s going back to its roots; skilled musicians and writers crafting good songs. The radio and music TV channels have inflated its value and the music publishing companies have profitted greatly over the past 30 or 40 years.

Business is an ever-changing marketplace and business models need to be adapted to today, not yesterday. Legislation and enforcement can only go so far but it can’t prop up a poorly constructed business model. Digital Rights Management is only expediting the end as you’re now spending more money on marketing, lobbying and enforcement and less on the actual content of what you’re peddling. Meanwhile somebody that has a model built around content and monetizing that content is going to replace you. So please feel free to introduce more rights management, I look forward to seeing the music die (in its current guise).

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