Sunday, September 2, 2007

Piracy hurts Box Office? ... Even During Record Setting Summer?

There is a fantastic article up over at Ars Technica that pretty much sums up how I've felt about the MPAA/RIAA's war on "Piracy".

Despite concerns about the extent of piracy, the movie business has
pulled in record revenues this summer, earning more than $4 billion in
box revenues in the US alone.

Media by Numbers, which tracks such things, estimates that the industry will rake in $4.15 billion
(PDF) by the end of Labor Day. That's despite record-high average
ticket prices of $6.85, up $0.30 from a year ago. That's even despite
claims that piracy is on the rise, and it's harming the industry.

It couldn't be that the movies were just a lot better this year?

It goes on to talk about the lack of forward thinking for technologies. Pretty much the same trap that the Music industry fell into around Napster. If anyone had embraced mp3 back then , I don't think music would be as de-valued as it is today (at least in album form).

Watching the Movie industry scramble to come up with newer and more confusing copy protections (which are usually cracked within weeks
09-F9-11-02-9D-74-E3-5B-D8-41-56-C5-63-56-88-C0), is pretty self destructive. These measures only serve to stop average consumers from using the content in a legitimate manner. Trust me, anyone who really wants to get around these copy protection schemes will be able to, but those just looking for the convenience of popping in a cassette tape will be sorely disappointed. Something tells me it'll most likely get worse before it gets better.

It's all wrapped up in this "consumers are pirates" mentality (read here for my take on "piracy"). Just because suits can't understand what this technology means, it perpetuates this idea of everyone trying to steal from them. If they would just consider this from a consumers point of view, for just a second, they could stand to make SO much more money. I'll give you two options:

1. Drive to store. Browse limited selection. Pick best of what they have. Wait in line at cash register. Pay, and then be asked for your receipt as you leave by big burly rent-a-cop that saw you pay. Drive home. Spend about 5 minutes or so dealing with plastic wrap, stickers, tabs. Pop DVD in player. Sit through trailers. Sit through commercials. Sit through FBI Warning. Sit through commercial telling you Piracy is wrong. Get to Disc Menu. Play movie.

2. Browse for exactly the movie you want online. Wait about 3-4 hours for it to download (over broadband of course). Burn it to disc. Pop it in DVD player. DVD menu pops up. Watch Movie.

Now, obviously today option 1 is legit Best Buy style, and option 2 is file-sharing, but what if some forward thinking exec saw option 2 and said "Wow, the consumers have already created a business model for us. All we have to do is slap a price tag on it".

Let's say option one is $14.99, and option 2 were $9.99 (no packaging, no shipping, no stocking, no paying snotty employees - just pure profit after data costs) which one would you rather patron?

Check out the Ars Technica article it is a great summary of whats going on, and where we could be.

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