An Open Letter To "Old Media":

by Andy Cochrane on January 23, 2008 · 12 comments

in Uncategorized

mpaa-block1.gifWhy We Steal From You,riaa

And How To Stop Us:

For years now, the record and movie industries have been waging non-stop war against us, their consumers and fans. They are fighting for survival of the current business models and revenue streams, which are under an incredible assault from electronic piracy in the form of bootleg or ripped CDs and DVDs, P2Pfile sharing, bittorrents, and rogue websites hosting downloads. This is a massive problem- almost every single person under the age of 50 has at some point stolen from these companies in one way or another, and they are justifiably pissed off about it. I think that they have every right to defend their copyrights and do their best to prevent the illegal free use of the products that they have paid to create, distribute, and market. I do not, however, think that they are going about it the right way. Here is my advice, which will be ignored, further cementing the demise of old media (enjoy your slow death, guys):

  • We steal because it is easier, not because it is cheaper, so make it easier to buy your products. Ever since iTunes made it drop-dead simple to buy new music, I find it easier to find and get a song on there than any other method (it takes ~1minute and no effort). I do not buy CD’s anymore because I can get them on iTunes with far less effort. That said, I hate DRM, and the crippled iTunes tracks makes it very hard for me to move and listen to my purchases on the 3 computers I use constantly. I know many people buy songs legally, then steal a copy of the same songs on a P2P site just so they don’t have to deal with the DRM. This doesn’t just apply to music- many people don’t like going to the movie theater, waiting a day for Netflix to arrive, or going to a store to rent a movie- we’d much rather watch it right now. With Apple’s new “rentals”, Netflix’s “watch now” online feature, and On Demand offerings, it is becoming easier to legally pay to watch a movie at home at your convenience than it is to steal it online or rip a DVD. Take notice of this trend, and capitalize upon it. Make it so that we can quickly, reliably, and easily access your product- anywhere, anytime. Focus on finding ways to make it much, much easier to pay you than to rob you. Believe me, we don’t enjoy installing software, setting up configurations, troubleshooting, and finding what we want online. We are lazy, not cheap.
  • We don’t like paying for crap, so stop making it. I have never regretted a single dime paid for a good film or album. But I did stop going to the movies because I was sick of being bilked out of $12 every time I went out, and I pretty much never buy an entire album anymore. We hate dropping money and time on your products, only to discover that they don’t just fail to meet their own hype- they often are only hype. I realize that you are a business, and as such a pretty basic requirement is that you need to make money. But it is time you realized that your product is entertainment, and you are not delivering good product anymore. Stop thinking of money first and product second- swap the formula around and the profit will come in droves. There is a reason that there is no “Citizen Kane II: Return of the Kane”- your predecessors knew that quality stories came first, and if a film made money it didn’t necessarily need to be turned into a franchise. Instead of Transformers 2, or American Idol 27, can we please have new, exciting, interesting films and music? Don’t you remember why you got into the business in the first place? Didn’t you once love movies and music? Don’t you want to make the next great American Film or Album? Stop chasing our money, start chasing our interests.
  • Never wage war on your own customers, it’s mean. Part of stopping us from stealing from you is going to have to involve you not being dicks about it. If you didn’t come across as greedy, ignorant, evil Luddites, I think more people would have a problem stealing your hard work. I know many people that would not blink at downloading the latest Spiderman movie, but who will go out of their way to pay for a copy of an indie film. Why? Because we don’t like being theives, we never have; but we don’t feel like you matter- you are faceless, lawsuit-happy conglomerates of evil intentions, and as such, stealing just doesn’t seem like stealing when its against you. I have never, not once, stolen a movie- in DVD form or otherwise. I am deeply, deeply insulted that you call me a criminal with your condescending anti piracy commercials before watching the film that I just paid to see. Screw you. If you really want to win this one, you need to change your image. We are not in the right on this point- we are very, very much in the wrong, but if you want to stop us, work on being lovable, it will make the fight easier.
  • Recognize that there will always be piracy, and accept that fact; put the needs of the many above your fears of the few. Instead of making it hard for everyone to get and consume your product because some people steal from you, focus on making it so that anyone who wants to pay you can do so more easily. Abolish DRM (you already are starting to; kudos; now do it all the way), those who want to break it can, and those who don’t want to break it still have to, just to watch the movies they bought from you on their iPods, or listen to the songs they “own” anywhere they want to (you and I both know that nobody actually owns the music or movies, it’s just a limited license to enjoy it, isn’t it!). You cannot win your war on piracy any more than the U.S. will win against drugs or terror, internalize that, learn to accept piracy as a given, and start to deal with it realistically. You can reduce it so much that those who steal are numerically insignificant, but not by making your product annoying to access for everyone. There are still real life pirates sailing the seas of the world, but they are nowhere near the numbers they used to be. Take realistic precautions and legal action against those who steal from you as a defensive strategy, but don’t make that you entire focus.

Look around you and take stock of what is happening. You have the technology now to give us any song or video in the world, almost instantly, at extremely high quality. On demand is amazing, Netflix, Google, and Apple are going to be the next major movie distributors (you thought you guys were going to keep control of that one didn’t you?), and there are unsigned artists outselling your talent and keeping the profit all for themselves. The iPhone deal was rejected by every carrier in the US except for at&t, mainly because they were desperate. Now look how that turned out. Apple demanded a change in the way phone manufacturers and service providers share profits, and in the process created one of the most impressive subscriber increases in the history of phone companies. Innovation is scary, but necessary. If you continue to sit on your crumbling fortress walls much longer, we won’t invite you to the next big party, then what will you do? Probably blame piracy for sinking your ship. Too bad, you could have won this thing.

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  • DeK

    If you were running for president and I were UnitedStatesofAmerican, you’d have my vote. 😛

  • Andy Cochrane

    lol thanks. i just wish they would let us save them from their current poor decisions. they won’t, they will fail and die and go away.

  • Andy Cochrane

    i forgot to link this story, it was part of the inspiration in writing this post: the MPAA ‘accidentally’ overstated the percentage of movie piracy done on college campuses. turns out that only 3% of all movie pirates are in college using campus networks, not 44% as they stated in 2005. they cite human error, i cite total assholishness.

  • .alphamonkey.

    At that last big RIAA trial, one of Sony’s lawyers admitted they had no real idea how much they had lost in revenue due to piracy. That’s right: Those 2 billion dollar a year figures? Complete bullshit.

  • RazorFine

    Well said man, well said.

  • Phil Lauro

    The so-called “masses” have always found a way to “strike back” at ruling classes who forget “to rule” requires “willing subjects”. Said subjects do not want the people they are making wealthy to be egotistical assholes.

    The digital revolution may be just that in more ways then envisioned by the current crop of disenfranchised geeks and ex-middleclass Baby Boomers. The technical generation has watched their parents be devesatated by the stupidity of wealth and greed.

    To listen to the experts, our children and grandchildren have been “desensitized” by the media. From a technology use perspective, they blow previous generations away. When they decide to make “a run on the bank”, all hell will break loose as the monster their parents created is painfully strangled until death!

  • Andy Cochrane

    i am honestly a little confused by your comment phil- would you mind clarifying it a bit?

    1) do you really think the mpaa and riaa have any form of control over us? they are essentially the lawyers and accountants for the large companies that run the industries they represent. they lobby the government for new regulations as applied to their business, and they take legal action to defend their copyrights… but they are certainly not a ruling class by a long stretch.

    2) we have absolutely, without any single shred of doubt, NO right to “overthrow” them- they are not doing anything illegal, nor are they oppressing anyone. are they assholes, sure, but so are a lot of businessmen. they are defending their legal copyrights, which are being violated on a global scale daily. they may have told some lies recently to bolster their case when they go to the government for help, but they are not trying to rob us or keep us down, they are trying to stop us from stealing from them.

    3) “The technical generation has watched their parents be devesatated by the stupidity of wealth and greed.” i don’t know where to start on that one- what do you mean? my parents weren’t devastated by wealth and greed. sure we are headed for a massive depression, a housing market nosedive, a total collapse of the environment, and about a billion other things… but i don’t think that the RIAA or MPAA defending their materials have anything to do with any of that.

    4) “From a technology use perspective, they blow previous generations away. When they decide to make “a run on the bank”, all hell will break loose as the monster their parents created is painfully strangled until death!”. again, you’re going to have to explain what that means, and how it pertains to the war on piracy.

    i am not attacking you, so please don’t feel defensive- i honestly just don’t understand your comment completely, and i really don’t understand how it applies to this issue. please explain, i do want to understand what you are saying here.

    also, the only “overthrowing” that we do have the right to do is to stop watching their movies and stop listening to their songs. if it is truly terrible stuff, don’t steal it, don’t consume it. if you want to stick it to the man, stop using his products. watch indie movies and videos distributed online (legally). listen to bands with no record label that sell their music online.

  • brindlefarter

    “Put the needs of the many above your fears of the few. … Instead of making it hard for everyone to get and consume your product because some people steal from you…”

    Wow, the ignorance and stupidity and doubletalk in the quoted bit is just stunning.

    First off, it’s not “hard” to get into your fucking car/truck/minivan/SUV/whathaveyou and drive over to the local movie theater/megaplex/record store, if one bothers to do even the barest possible minuscule amount of planning, such as looking in the local paper for the movie listings or looking them up on the computer.

    More importantly, it isn’t “some people” who steal music/vids/movies, as you yourself claim it’s every single person under the age of 50 on the entire fucking planet, which turns out to be around 4,500,000,000 people. That’s hardly “some,” unless you are some new species of demented ‘tard.

  • .alphamonkey.

    Shut your troll hole, Brindle/WSL/Ducks/Walker

  • Andy Cochrane

    while your language is counter-productive to having an educated discourse, i will respond to your “thoughts”, brindle.

    it is not hard to actually go out of your home and buy/watch/listen to media. it is however, easier for most people to sit at home and steal it. my point is not that they make it hard, it is that they need to make it easier than stealing.

    and if you re-read the post, you will see that the quote you pulled refers to DRM, not to the film and music industries making it harder to go see a movie or buy a record. DRM makes it harder for people to use and move their own legal purchases from legal device to legal device. it is therefore easier to steal a copy of a movie or song than it is to buy one and to use it as you desire.

    currently most people have broken copyright at least once in their consumption of media, but that does not mean that every single person is stealing every single piece of media every single time. i myself, and most people i know, find it easier to buy songs on itunes than any other method, so that’s what we do. the more that these technologies are pushed, and stripped of drm, the closer old media will come to realistically defeating piracy. they can try to stop all piracy, or accept that there will always be some, and just make it so that the majority of people will want to pay for it out of convenience.

  • .alphamonkey.

    No, no, no.. There’s no responding to Brindle/WSL/Ducks/Walker. He’s 100% troll through and through. He just wants another opening to be all hardcore king of the internet debate, which I feel is much like being the toughest guy in the McDonald’s play yard.

  • Andy Cochrane

    greed update of the day: the riaa wants to lower artist royalties from 13% to 9% in order to survive. surprising revelation goes with this news item- apple supports a 4% pay out to artists… wtf??? are you serious?

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