19 July, 2002

Piracy

In April, the entertainment executives replied, saying they would cooperate if the technology industry reign in what's called "peer-to-peer" - or P-to-P - practices.

And so goes the meddling little battle between the entertainment and technology industries over the issue of piracy. Of course, what this article fails to address is:

  • There's more to online piracy than PtP networking. Yeah, PtP is definitely the easiest to handle. Fire up your client, search for a file, and start downloading. But quite frankly, I have better luck going through usenet.
  • How, exactly, is the "technology industry" supposed to reign in PtP networking? No matter how hard they try, companies like Apple and Microsoft will never be able to fully stop people from running the latest and greatest PtP clients. More importantly, these programs are written by individuals, who are not under the control of the big companies. These people will keep doing their thing, without any regard for what the MPAA, RIAA, Microsoft or whoever want

The issue isn't so much putting a curb on PtP applications, but fixing the culture that lets people justify using them to pirate the latest CD or DVD. $9 for a movie ticket? $18 for a new CD? $30, $40, $50 for a new DVD? Is it any wonder people would rather just steal the data than pay for it?

I'd love to believe that these items cost so much because hard working artists are making the proverbial fat cash from their sales, but the sad truth is that they're not. And it's not the stores selling the media, although they certainly aren't hurting for money. So this pretty much leaves the entertainment industry itself. For the most part, it's pure avarice that keeps the prices up. I can buy a blank, recordable CD for approximately $.10. A CD producer, with it's ability to buy in staggeringly huge quantities, should be able to do way better than this. So where is the remaining $17.90 (or more) going?

Now, I'm not going to be naive and say that lowering the prices will stop all piracy. There will always be piracy. It's human nature that a certain percentage of the population is going to do the least amount of work to get something. [Hell, your average CEO does the least amount of actual, physical work and he makes a killing!] It's like adding a new variable to the old demand vs. price curve. In this case, demand goes down while price and piracy steadily go up. Is it really worth it for the entertainment industry to pick a price point with such low demand and high piracy, considering the external cost of fighting piracy?

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