It’s always entertaining to watch someone attempt to turn an old idea into a revolutionary one, so imagine our delight – or dismay, if anyone takes it seriously – to read a Techdirt article doing just that. Better yet, doing so under the guise of a carefully researched “report!”
If you don’t have the heart to wade through yet more head-in-the-sand, piracy apologist schtick, here’s the hypothesis: where legal streaming services launch, piracy drops.
Mind = Blown, right?
This unremarkable conclusion is communicated in a thoroughly clichéd way, within a report entitled “The Carrot or The Stick: Innovation vs. Anti-Piracy Enforcement.” The document is commissioned by The Copia Institute, a Google-backed think tank which appears to receive its thoughts from the tech lobby, pretty them up in Powerpoint with some clip art, before labeling them “innovative” and releasing them into the wild.
Less an innovative think tank, more recycled arguments from a stagnant thought pool.
To take this case directly, though, let’s neuter one false premise from the outset; enforcing intellectual property law and encouraging innovation are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the former supports the latter by giving inventors and artists some degree of confidence that they will be able to make a living from their groundbreaking ideas, without someone taking them without permission.
Nor does the fact that innovation makes exciting and legal new services available for our entertainment needs mean that there’s no place for anti-piracy initiatives. There will always be those who seek to profit from content that isn’t theirs to sell, and there will always be a niche of technologically-able users who have no qualms about circumventing legal safeguards to get take what they want for nothing. As we see in the cases of Kim Dotcom/Megaupload and The Pirate Bay’s founders, anti-piracy protection is key to bringing down the illegal side of the content equation. This actually aids legal services, who understand the need to compensate creators, because they aren’t subject to unfair competition from those who feel no need to respect intellectual property law.
From there, the entire argument falls apart, because each area must be dissected on its own merits, with little or no correlation to the other. Yes, there must be a drive to innovate and launch new entertainment services. Yes, there should be legislation in place to prevent unauthorized services vying with those that legally source their content. But the two can live side-by-side, even symbiotically, without detracting from the other. Disagree with the effectiveness of specific anti-piracy programs, by all means, but don’t try to tell us that the existence of legal services means that all efforts to curb the illegal ones should be killed.
The idea that the entertainment industry is opposed to innovation and fails to launch services that consumers want is no longer just a tired argument, it’s on the side of the road, wheezing and, we have to hope, just about ready to quit the race.
Most mainstream consumers have not yet arrived at the streaming station, but everyone from cable companies to online-only startups is now introducing. From the MPAA itself, which so often bears the brunt of criticism , the Where to Watch initiative helps to guide viewers to the content . Such a sound idea that companies like Apple and Amazon, often held up as the height of tech innovation, are just now beginning to integrate Universal Search options into their streaming solutions!
The simple fact is that the entertainment industry is working hard every day to update its production and distribution to reach consumers when and where they want to watch. Most are willing to compensate them for this effort, be it in the form of subscription fees, one-time charges, or simply watching a few ads during their content.
There’s a section of the online environment, however, that tasted piracy early on and now refuses to give up the notion that they are entitled to take any content they want, without ever having to pay anything. As much as piracy apologists like Techdirt, appropriately named, try to sling mud on the creative industry for being dinosaurs and deliberately holding back innovation, real world products simply don’t let that stick.
Rather than conduct “research” into the glaringly obvious to support their own ends, it would be refreshingly honest to hear something else we already know from this crowd: “we’re cheap and we don’t to pay people to create things that entertain us.”
It won’t make the attitude any more easy to stomach, but at least the arguments will finally come from a place that can be logically, if not legally justified.