Speaking as someone who works primarily in the entertainment industry, but also makes part of my living in the tech world, I need to ask a small favor of those crusading.
Can we stop using a two-faced argument to justify stealing? Please?
See, I just read the Pirate Bay’s pithy response to SOPA and the Wiki blackouts, and in the following days of discussion I’ve noticed two arguments rising to the top of most conversations.
1. Consumers want to consume media in the way THEY see fit, with no interference from the people who created it.I completely agree. I think copyright and IP laws in this country are broken. I think Hollywood has done a horrible job of building customer relationships in an economy where consumers can create a lot of their own content. I think they’ve also done a tremendous disservice to their own industry by persecuting successful businesses which convert non-paying customers into paying customers (Netflix, Hulu, etc).
However, point one is often (and sometimes immediately) followed up with this next argument.
2. And the content Hollywood/Music Industry/Mega-Game Publishers produce isn’t something I’d pay for anyway.Ok guys and gals. Ya’ll need to stop THAT crap right now. We (in the tech community) can’t keep having it both ways. From now on we have to admit to ourselves that if it was worth looking up a torrent, waiting for the download, and transferring to a device to consume, then it was worth some exchange of funds. This is the way business works.
If it doesn’t look like something you would spend money on, then don’t consume it. There’s so much terrific content available, why would you spend any time, this precious commodity, wasting it on dredge, stuff that you’re going to pan or trash.
Interesting then that we often hear that second argument, but if I scout some of the more popular torrent sites, I don’t see garbage, I see really good, well made, popular media being shared. It smells a little like hypocrisy...
It’s not a victimless crime. Now I think it’d be great if parts of the current media system could be broken and rebuilt, but along the way consumers stand to be just as victimized from their own behavior as the companies they’re trying to disrupt.
The consumer's pain will be two fold.
First, expect to see even more (and more subtle) tech legislation being pushed and supported by people who should absolutely not be the gate keepers of tech innovation. It’s coming. We’ve already forgotten that a bill similar in scope to PIPA was presented last year. It’ll come again next year. Count on it.
Sadly, the second consumer hit will be atrophy. If media becomes a less sound investment, less media will be produced, or will be produced at a lower quality. Don’t believe me? We’ve already seen an extreme example of this scenario play out in the anime world, most recently watching Bandai shutter production. Who will replace them? Who will fill that void? I don’t see anyone rushing in to service that market, and there’s no grass roots or fan-made animation capable of recreating that experience. That entire production infrastructure is gone. Done.
There’s been a lot of chest-thumping and soap-boxing about how to break Hollywood. Neat. What replaces it?
If you want to reform Hollywood, you have to vote with your wallet. No way around it. Continue to consume their product without paying for it, and you’ll embolden them, convince them they need to work harder at halting innovation. If you don't put a buck (or four) in from time to time, then you have no actual voice in this fight.
Supporting services which disprove media company assertions (that media streaming, rentals, internet radio, et al aren’t profitable) is probably our strongest positive counter argument to the broken DVD and decaying theatrical markets. They’re easier than free, and more fair.
[Quick Tangent: And stop that “Netflix doesn’t have anything good” BS. Seriously. If you really can’t find anything good on Netflix, then you aren’t looking, like, at all. And STOP that “it’s hard to find stuff” BS too. What? Will I need to come to your home and chew your food for you? Learn how to use a search bar, and explore some films beyond those you just saw the poster for in a multi-plex. Waaahhh...]
I applaud those of you who contacted your elected officials over this issue.
I really feel SOPA/PIPA would’ve been destructive not only to the tech industry, but also to the same media industry it was designed to protect. I say keep the pressure on for future fights. Keep writing emails and letters, making phone calls, but let’s widen the net. Let’s start including company CEO’s, producers, directors. Let’s start contacting directors of photography and supervising sound editors. As it stands, I can't tell you the number of performers, producers, and directors I've spoken with who have been in the infuriating position of receiving fan mail from people who proudly state they acquired their work for free.
What if every time you watched a movie or listened to an album you really liked, you sent an email telling the people behind it that not only did you enjoy their work, but you also enjoyed the experience of consuming it legally, the way YOU wanted to listen to it. The way YOU wanted to watch it. What if all those people also got a message from you when the experience of purchasing was bad?
Grass roots can work both ways people.
I really don’t want to live in a world where all media is free. What would I watch?