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You wouldn’t download a car… would you?

online piracy

We’ve all seen the ad that plays prior to the cinema movie or rented DVD – piracy is a crime, and it’s exactly like stealing. The famous line that people seem to remember is ‘You wouldn’t steal a car’, and the crazy thing about that one line is that, with the invention of 3D printers, you may well be able to do just that in the not too distant future. But if there were only a select few places to buy cars, and, knowing this, the car companies charged exorbitant prices, could they really expect people to ‘just say no’ to car piracy? Ok, that might sound a bit far-fetched, but how different is this scenario to the one playing out right now with movie piracy?

Online piracy continues to be a hot topic the world over. Whether talking about music, movies, or vidya, the main torrenting sites are seemingly unstoppable. Although there’s been an amalgamation of law suits attempting to take down the big players, none have succeeded. Sure, we’ve seen the co-founders of (arguably) the most notorious torrent site put in jail for ‘enabling copyright infringement’, but still the site lived on in their absence.

The war against piracy may just be working – but not in the expected way

Interestingly, it’s actually been reported by some that the rates of piracy are actually declining. The reason for this may very well be the introduction (and skyrocketing popularity) of services such as Netflix and Spotify. What we’re finally seeing is a sway in favour of the consumer.

Last time I went to the movies, do you know how much it cost? A ticket for my wife and I to see Mad Max: Fury Road (which was amazing, by the way) ended up setting us back around $50. And they really wonder why people end up moving towards piracy? Really?

I don’t actually pirate, because (thanks to my father) I have been blessed with the virtue of patience, a personality trait that many people, especially in this ‘I want it NOW’ day and age, lack. For example, I was happy to wait until GoT came out on Foxtel to experience it. So as it goes, I’m more than happy to wait until a movie comes out on either Netflix or Foxtel before I see it. Same too with music; I believe it’s perfectly reasonable to sit through intermittent advertising to access (pretty much) every track I want to hear on Spotify.

The genius of Louis CK

For those who are familiar with this name, no doubt one of his crass, yet hilarious, bits comes to mind (and for the uninitiated, I implore you check his stand-up out). What I think of, though, is the way in which he releases his specials. Whether it’s audio or DVD special, he’ll release it through his site for $5. For this, you can download it a couple of times and do with it whatever you like. What I thought was an incredible stroke of genius on his part, it’s a cost that any true fan would be happy to fork over for new material of his.

Instead of accepting an offer by one of the big publishers to produce/film/edit for him and charge consumers ~$30 per DVD (offering him a minute fraction of sales), he worked hard and did all that himself, and reaped the benefits. Removing the ‘middle man’ in the process (production house) it was a sale direct from Louis himself – and it worked. Even at $5 apiece, he still made over $1 million.

An inconclusive conclusion

Between services like Spotify and Netflix, and the straight-to-consumer method Louis took, there are definitely ways to reduce the rate of piracy overall. However, I don’t think online piracy will ever die, because some people just want to watch the world burn.