The All Mighty Green One

Non sense, whining and stupid unfounded comments from the green.

Ahoy Matey!

In my travels through the blogosphere I found an article which grabbed my attention. The author was ranting on how we have become evil pirates leaching on the poor artists who invests in music and have to starve to death because. We are so insensible and indifferent that we steal to no end.

I am going to take the politically incorrect stance here. People, really, the whole stealing thing. It’s a marketing campaign. It’s being overblown, taken out of proportion to serve the interests of the big corporations which distribute media. They publicize astronomical numbers in losses, sue innocent people, raid servers in foreign countries. All to get your attention. All to make you fear your dastardly activities and lead you into a path of redemption.

It is very hard to take any large group of people and place them all under a single category or specification. Yet it has been done. The millions of people that trade digital media around the world in P2P networks (this is the most notorious example, but there are other technologies at work here as well) are all labeled universally as thieves. Is this an accurate description? Let’s try to take an unbiased look at the evolution of the “illegal” distribution of media to try to find out. I’ll concentrate on movies and music, since they are the two types of content that tend to get most attention.

Ten years ago you could also get movies and music illegally. The internet was still in it’s infancy. A 33.6 or 56 KiBPS dial up modem was the hottest thing since individually wrapped sliced cheese. The widespread use of audio and video encoding that we see today was science fiction at best. There was still a very tight coupling of content and medium. To acquire and consume the content you had to accept the medium it was being distributed on. This was no exception for the pirated distribution as well. Let’s sum up the characteristics of the content and medium that was being distributed.

  • The pirated medium sucked. The packaging was sported a very bad copy of the originals logo or front label. Usually never had a back label. The tape, or CD itself usually also had a bad copy of the imprint or nothing at all.
  • The content quality was bad. The audio and video was usually very bad. The VHS tapes presented static on the TV, the image looked less sharp. The sound sounded muffled.
  • The location of transaction was informal. You had to go to a flee market, or meet up with someone selling pirated content on the street. You never walked into a respectable business with a nice presentation. There was no support, no number to call, no promise of customer satisfaction.
  • It was more cost effective than buying the original content. Despite all the negative elements previously mentioned, the strong motivator is that it was significantly cheaper than the legal alternative. Legal and illegal product offer more or less the same thing, with a big price difference. Obviously the market is going to respond to that. Keep in mind that there were no HDTV’s or 7.1 surround systems, so a focus on quality was not the big factor it is today.

Jump to the present. The internet has taken the world by storm. We have tiny devices that we carry around all day that can connect our calls, play music, and announce next week’s forecast. Appliance costs continue to decline and an overall growth of technological related product consumption grows. The media market is at the center of this growth. With the supply of all those media devices, content demand rises as consequence.

People want content. It’s that simple. As always, the market will give them a different choices on what and how to acquire it. How have the illegal offerings evolved during this time?

  • There is no medium. I can no acquire my content without the need of it being tied to a to a physical medium. I no longer have to worry about a CD or DVD scratching and ruining my favorite song or movie. I no longer have to worry about that big disc pile in the corner of my room. I no longer have to worry about having a CD and a cassette only radio. With digital content, I can have it with me wherever I go. It’s versatile enough to be played on a wide range of devices, not just my radio or TV. I can quickly and easily share it with anyone irrelevant of geographical position. This freedom is a very powerful concept. Especially when compared to the previous status quo.
  • The content quality is excellent. Most of the time on par or above legal offerings. I can download movies and TV shows in HD resolution in a wide variety of formats. I can get MP3’s in 320 KiBPS or lossless formats.
  • The location is the best place on earth. You can acquire everything you want from the comfort of your own home. No need to deal with traffic. No need to wait for the half hour it takes you to get to the store and the other half hour it takes you to get back. Instant gratification!
  • It still is more cost effective. It’s not free as some people think or promote. You pay for the bandwidth necessary to download the content. Those resources are dedicating the acquisition, so they are part of the cost. Even though, it is still considerably cheaper, probably even more than before.

Before I had to choose between “good price and bad quality” or “not so good price and good quality”. Now it’s simply a no brainer. The illegal offering is superior, and it’s cheaper. There is simply not enough to motive you to “step out of the dark side” so to speak. That is why the MPAA and RIAA are crazy suing people and companies and spending millions of dollars in lobbying. The only motivator they can count to favor them is fear of prosecution. So the judgment now becomes: “good price but I’m in danger” or “not so good price but I can sleep at night”. This introduces a little more balance to the equation. It’s not the best method. They are not stupid. They are aware of this, but it’s the only thing they can resort to.

We all know they have made attempts to follow the new distribution mediums. They have been hindered by poor quality, awful DRM schemes, non competing release dates, etc. If you look at piracy as a competing company, not a menace, and you compare each offering… again, no brainer.

Markets react to the products and services that are presented to them and under the circumstances they are offered in. It’s not that we wont pay for content! We will. Make it worth our while. Not by driving us into fear. Do it the old fashion way: actually offer a superior product. When you do, you’ll see me in line with everyone else.

Advertisements

May 18, 2007 - Posted by | internet, media, politics, technology

14 Comments »

  1. Sorry buddy, but I have a huge rant to share about this particular post:
    First of all, you start by saying that some guy said that “we’re all pirates, we’re insensible and thieving” indicating that this statement is overblown, leading me to believe you are about to prove him wrong. Instead, you just end up defending piracy and trying to make it seem right.

    All your arguments about how “convenient” piracy is doesn’t make it a good thing to do. Sure it’s great not paying for someone else’s work, until it’s your work that gets that treatment. Plus, in my opinion, piracy is not always as convenient as you put it, and actually paying for content isn’t just so that we can sleep better at night.Allow me to elaborate.

    I’m a huge Lost fan, and due to my recent trip to Argentina, I missed the last 2 episodes. I could’ve have just searched for them in bittorrent, and according to you, it’s extremely easy and great. But finding a good torrent with enough seeds, that is actually the video that you want and not something else someone renamed as a “joke”, is no walk in the park, and you don’t mention it above. I much rather pay 2 bucks each at the itunes store (no apple jokes, please), where it’s guaranteed to be with a great quality, and servers dedicated to providing the content at a really good bandwith. Granted a day later, but who’s to say a torrent will be up sooner. Case in point? My time is more valuable to me than those 4 bucks, and I don’t plan to waste it searching around the tracker of the day.

    People pirate stuff because they feel nobody is watching, so who cares right? But that’s one of the things that are wrong in this world, we only do the right thing when we know we are watched. This mindset is what makes companies and people like the one you mentioned make those statements. It’s true that for certain content it’s actually beneficial to the creators, for example, try to legally find the independent movie “Primer” in this country, or any online video store. But piracy as a whole is bad, and is the main reason we are treated with crap like product activation, DRM and the like.

    Just my 2 cents, though I know you disagree and will try to and counter every point. Don’t think me immodest, but I seriously doubt a valid counter argument exists

    Comment by Ivan | May 18, 2007

  2. Aaaahh, my good friend Ivan. I will confess, I did think about you while writing this post. You the eternal do-gooder.

    I am not defending piracy, I am not attacking piracy. I am trying to look at it from an unbiased point of view. You and I stand on opposite sides of this discussion, we always have. I will not get into our past discussions on the subject. Yet the reason I wrote this post was precisely my futile attempt to view the phenomenon from a neutral perspective. There is a reason to everything in the universe, weather we have had the enlightenment to discover it or not.

    There are reasons why people pirate. People can be driven away from that, when they feel they are getting a better deal. It’s like movies that are in the theaters. The only thing I can get online is a horrible CAM which I will not watch. I gladly pay the theater admission to experience the movie in question. If it’s a big budget hollywood movie, I’ll get the added bonus of the excellent sound and big screen to better appreciate it. I am getting a better deal. After it’s out on video, they are no longer offering me enough to persuade me to their side. It’s simple economics. It’s not that I feel the need to “stick it to the man”, or am a “thief”. That’s the point I wanted to make. Apparently it didn’t come across to you that way.

    Don’t offend me Ivan. Don’t make yourself sound stupid. Don’t tell me you can’t find something on a tracker. It’s actually quite simple. You put in a URL, you go to the search bar in input your show, season and episode. You made the example with the last two episodes of Lost. I will bet my left testicle that you can find an excellent seed in at least 720p right now (please check the timestamp of this comment before taking me up on that bet). It’s not complicated at all. In fact, it’s easier than using iTunes.

    Comment by tamgo | May 18, 2007

  3. And while we’re are it, why not provide a link to the original article, so that we can all make our own judgments about it?

    Comment by Ivan | May 18, 2007

  4. I will admit that yes, you were being objective regarding the whole piracy vs legal way in terms of how convenient one is vs the other, but I still think the argument is flawed regarding the easiness of torrents.

    If it’s not the criptic file names such as this:

    Lost s3e21 [HDTV ENG][REAL PROPER][TNTVILLAGE]+sub ITA+sub ENG

    That you have to parse before deciding which one to download, is how many are compilations, when all you want is one or two. Then on each of them, hoping that they have enough seeds, cause even though the tracker lists them, from my experience, you just never know.

    On itunes, I just search “lost”, get a list of seasons (3), and then a list of episodes (22), finally click the ones you want. Done. No need to search different trackers, don’t care about language or subtitles, no need to parse the filename to see which quality it is, no worry about it being incomplete, no worry that it’s bogus. It’s just what I want, right there in the same place always. So legal stores do have advantages, and do their job properly

    Comment by Ivan | May 19, 2007

  5. So basically you are telling me that you are so lazy and/or stupid that you can’t read a file name. You need things laid out for you in a pretty little hierarchical menu inside a pretty cocoa GUI.

    I could accept this argument from my mother, but not from you. You are technical enough to be able to read this file. You understand about encoding and resolution. Don’t give the crap about it being hard. If you don’t understand, then click the first one. The ones with best encoding and resolution are generally the most seeded anyway. It’s marvelous how it works, the community decides what they want. It’s self generating, organizing and healing but that’s another subject all together.

    Don’t justify ignorance. There is no excuse for it.

    Comment by tamgo | May 19, 2007

  6. Here is the link to the troublesome article that started this whole mess. Enjoy.
    http://livewirez.wordpress.com/2007/05/17/free-music-downloads-easy-convenient-and-illegal

    Comment by tamgo | May 19, 2007

  7. Musicians get ripped off, regardless how you acquire the music. Record companies make the majority of the money the band makes from sales…the musicians only get a low percentage of it. Bands and musicians get most of their money from things like concert ticket sales, merchandise sales, etc. etc.

    However, for “true” indie artists who are completely independent from any major record companies…they do see a significant portion of sales from their music.

    Just a thought to chew on.

    Personally, I buy my music legally. I like cd’s, I live the cover art, the liner notes, etc. Sure, I might just rip it into my computer and mp3 player after I buy it, but I like knowing that if my MP3 player breaks, my computer crashes etc…I still have that hard copy right there.

    Comment by silverneurotic | May 19, 2007

  8. A friend of mine and I share common ground on our respective points of view. He wrote about the same subject a while back. Here’s a link to his article.

    http://www.maetico.com/im-a-pirate-by-consequence/

    Comment by tamgo | May 19, 2007

  9. Dude, it’s not just you and me and all tech people, it’s everyone. And, just because I’m tech savvy doesn’t mean I should go through any kind of hassle, cause that’s what it is. And what do you say to the rest of the things I mentioned?… forget it, I’ll just go by your logic, and apply it to everything else, I’ll quit my job, and steal from the neighbor, since it’s so much “easier” than earning my own money.

    Comment by Ivan | May 19, 2007

  10. No that is not my logic. You have lost objectivity. Please read the article again. I am not promoting stealing, I think it’s wrong. I am explaining why people download unlicensed content from the internet. It is not my logic to steal content.

    It doesn’t matter if you are tech savvy or not. You can read. You are blowing it out of proportion. First of all the example title you posed is something rarely seen, it’s far too complex. The average title simply has a the name of the series, the episode in question, audio and/or video codec, and the guy that ripped it. There is nothing there that is beyond the comprehension of the average video consumer. Tech professional or not.

    The simple truth right now is that the hassle is buying content. If you want to tell yourself otherwise, then that’s fine by me. I have no issues with that. But you are simply looking like a right wing fanatic in front of the 3 other people that are reading this article.

    Comment by tamgo | May 19, 2007

  11. http://mises.org/story/2590

    Comment by tamgo | May 22, 2007

  12. […] press recently over online media trading. I’m not going to go into that right now. I actually wrote an article on it recently, not that it wasn’t an over covered subject anyway. Basically “free […]

    Pingback by Microsoft's Motives Behind The 235 IP Infringements « The All Mighty Green One | May 22, 2007

  13. I had conversations with several bands that put out their albums in indie labels (like Fatwreck Records and Epitaph Records) about this subject, and they do like how music is now more easily spread and how now they can tour places where they never thought they’d be (touring Latin America for example). They see this as THE (only) good thing about the hole subject of downloading/ripping music in digital form.

    But I’m talking about bands that used to sell 100,000 records in the 90s and now they only sell maybe 30,000. So as someone already said, for indie bands it has a good side, for indie record labels it has no good sides as they directly depend on record sales and don’t count on touring as the bands.

    Now, if we were only talking about major record labels (which are the ones that bitch the most, but suffer the least), I do agree with what you said in the main post.

    Comment by Jimmy | May 22, 2007

  14. and I thought there would be swashbuckling. Or at least hoisting the mainsail. If you’re going to be a pirate, be a pirate. If you want to be the good guys, be the good guys. You can’t be a pirate and be sad that people want to take what you have stolen. And if you’re the good guy, you have to get over the fact that there are pirates. Pirates rock! But being the good guys pretty cool too. Six of one…maybe.

    Comment by Courtenay | June 8, 2007


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: