I love piracy.
Generally, this is not something people will admit. At least, not well-educated, law-abiding citizens.
But here’s the thing: I don’t pirate material. Feel free to call bullshit if you want, but you can pick up the deck because I don’t. I agree with the companies whose content is being “stolen.” To some extent.
I believe in the sanctity of creative intellectual property and the right of owners to protect that property. Technically, that is what pirates are stealing.
That said, the latest act of government intervention on behalf of major companies, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is yet another example of the complete overreaction of corporations.
I think Markham Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, which includes Google, Yahoo and Bloomberg, put it best.
He was quoted in an article for The Hill saying, “As leading brands of the Internet, we strongly oppose offshore ‘rogue’ websites and share policymakers’ goal of combating online infringement of copyrights and trademarks. However, we do not believe that the solution lies in regulating the Internet and comprising its stability and security.”
The companies lobbying so forcefully for legislation like this are completely overreacting. Many claim that without these regulations, their industries will crumble, are in fact already crumbling.
Stop being so melodramatic!
For instance, take Viacom. This media conglomerate recently passed out half muffins with labels saying “Looks like someone stole a chunk” to employees, trying to drive home the idea that pirates are stealing from the employees, too.
But looking at Viacom’s stock over the last few years, the price has increased to a level above that of pre-recession years.
I’m simply trying to point out that they are actually doing pretty well for themselves, so why are they complaining?
Now, this doesn’t mean piracy isn’t affecting the company. I’ll admit that piracy does affect potential profits.
Of course, the key word is “potential.” The large losses that companies like claiming are hard to validate and usually don’t accurately reflect what the company would have made if piracy didn’t exist.
The german-language politics and media website Telepolis found an interesting story on a study by the GfK Group, a market research company, which was shelved by the unnamed client because the findings were “unpleasant.” Unfortunately, I don’t read German, so I had to find out about this secondhand from geek.com.
At any rate, the study supposedly found that pirates aren’t deranged criminals who merely steal movies and never buy anything, as the movie and music industries would like people to believe.
As other studies have found (you’ve probably never heard of them, but I’ve actually research this in the past, too) pirates are actually more likely to pay for content.
See, the average “pirate” isn’t copying content to redistribute. They’re often diehard fans that just want the material before it is available on the market, and when it does hit stores, they’re still going to purchase that new CD or Blu-Ray, and they’ll probably even spring for the special edition.
As a final note, I would like to say the main reason I don’t support this type of regulation is that it’s just too broad.
There are many different types of content that is pirated online, and there are many different reasons for pirating, and there are many different ways that pirating affects the different industries. You can’t make umbrella legislation to cover it, and think it’ll be ok.
Not to mention the fact that it won’t work anyway.
I guess, in the end, that’s the real reason that the government and lobbyists’ idea to Stop Online Piracy is silly.