Can The Creative Industry Ever Mesh With The Pirates?

AFACT's loss in the high court on Friday brought to an end the current legal woes for iiNet, but it's far from the end of the story. In the press conference held afterwards, iiNet's Michael Malone repeatedly pressed home the point that a lot of the problems would go away if Australian content delivery mechanisms were better. I agree with him, but I'm left pondering if that won't bring with it a whole new host of problems. One of the key frustrations with any TV series if you become a fan is the speed at which programs hit the airwaves here. Television networks are remarkably fickle creatures, with some seasons chopped in half, skipped over or forgotten about entirely. Gaming isn't much better; for some major console releases, and even for things like digital-only console releases, where only bits have to change hands, we can wait months or years... or forever.

From that perspective, I do understand why some people do go about getting content via "other means". That doesn't make it legal, but you knew that anyway. I'm in an interesting position as regards this kind of topic, because clearly I make my living providing works (in my case, mostly written words) that have value because of copyright. It's an inbuilt bias that I can't and shouldn't ignore.

Without it, I go hungry, but I'm also keenly aware that copyright is a contentious term, especially for older works. Quite why Mickey Mouse, or the lyrics for "Happy Birthday" should still be under copyright protection genuinely baffles me. On the gaming side of things, gaming is a little younger, but the number of defunct gaming companies makes sorting out the rights to things a tortuous proposition in any case.

So, the oft-heralded solution for this problem would seem to be fast-tracking content to the land down under, and making it painless to pay for access to TV episodes and video games, whether that's via free-to-air or a purely digital delivery service such as iTunes. It'd solve a percentage of the piracy problem — but I sadly suspect not for terribly long.

The key problem that I suspect would crop up anyway is one of price. I'm not talking here of those that would pirate at any price because they simply have no money anyway; you're not going to sell something to them in any regard. The chances are exceptionally high if you're reading this in Australia that you're simply not one of those folks. We're a comparatively wealthy nation, after all.

Now, this is just a hunch, and I could well be wrong, but the reason I've got this hunch is because of what's happened with App pricing over the past four years. We track App sales every day at Gizmodo; App Deals is one of our most popular daily pages, because everyone loves a bargain, right?

That's true, but equally true is the fact that people quickly adapt to what they think of as "normal" pricing, and become outraged if pricing is "too high". Outside of a few vertical applications, and very few games, try to sell an app for more than 99c on iOS (sometimes a little higher on Android, WP7 or Blackberry), and you'll be met with howls of outrage.

While it's been the accepted wisdom that a console game title costs a bit more, and productivity software often quite a bit more, selling anything except for a buck is apparently baseless profiteering.

(yes, yes, I know; people import games and movies all the time to cut costs too, but that line of thinking is a diversion from the point I'm trying to make)

I suspect price would be the problem with content delivery for larger works as well; while there would be folks who'd pay for content, price setting is going to be very tough indeed. Why buy $5 episodes when the DVD seasons quickly drop to $20? Why not just pirate them? I'm not advocating that, by the way — but it's all too easy to see the mindset that might switch from "they don't make it available quickly enough" to "they charge too much for it, so I'll copy it instead".

Value's one of those things that's very hard to pin down, because it can be personal. I dropped Foxtel a number of years back, simply because I worked out I wasn't watching very much of what it was offering. Experimentally, I deliberately ignored my Foxtel box for a week to see how much I "missed" it. When I realised the answer was "not at all", I cancelled my subscription, because to me it wasn't good value. I'll happily buy a digital copy of a program (whether that's purely digital or on an optical disc) at the right price, as long as I can see value in it.

How long would it be before those that hide behind the "I only pirate because it's not available here" excuse flip over to the "I pirate because they charge too much", especially when the concept of what's too much varies anyway? For some, I strongly suspect it wouldn't be long at all.


Comments

    TV should be free to watch. And it should be on the telly. If it isn't, I'll download it. If they were smart, they'd make shows available for free on the internet and find a way to ad support it there.

      Hulu does that right?
      Just need to be allowed to watch it in Aus.

    this is the general post I made on another forum in regards to piracy, changed up a bit for Kotaku ...
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ... make things cheaper. Every party contributes to a lower margin, the publisher, the creator, the digital service, the stores. Once everything is cheaper than who cares about pirating from some potentially virus ridden file or a random website or a weird looking dude at parking lot or some bad quality version the product. So many people would just go to something that is so cheap and piracy would be almost obsolete.

    Itunes songs should be 10c

    Movie ticket's should be $4

    Retail games should be $25 max

    I think it's a similar reason as to why Netflix is doing so well in the states. It's only a few bucks. It's cheap, that's why people primarily migrate to it and it's the reason disc sales are going down there so rapidly.

    And together with cheaper prices and a easy, efficient service you have keys to putting a dent on piracy.

    Here's a question I'll leave you all with, is it morally OK for someone in Brazil to have to pirate a video-game where they are over $170 U.S for a real copy? Indeed that is an extreme case that isn't 100% relevant to Aussies but in many ways it is to an extent, I mean how many people here complain about prices on Kotaku and it's not just consumers either?

      I don't see how shops will be able to afford wages, rent, electricity, stock and all the other expenses while selling games at $25... and movie tickets at $4...

      I think people need to get over the feeling that they deserver to play/watch/listen to the product, the people who put the time and effort into creating it have set their price, if you don't want to pay that price then don't play/watch/listen to it.

        Firstly it's a rough estimation on both our accounts as to whether they can afford to do it, I don't have the economics to gauge entirely whether a $4 movie ticket can cover general cost. My point is that once it's cheap enough, still covering costs of wages, rent etc, leaving a little room for profit, they will hit mass appeal.

        Why do you think tremendous amounts of consumers are going to the App Store and whyare publishers and developers going to the App store? Apple is the number 1 company in the U.S. for a number of reasons. Some because of their effecting marketing, and some because they are simply smarter than other companies with their $1 games.

      $1 for a song on itunes IS ALREADY CHEAP.

      Musicians are getting shafted over piracy enough as it is, it may as well be free rather than 10c. At this rate you would have to sell 10 songs just to make a fucking dollar. ONE FRICKING DOLLAR. WHAT THE HELL CAN I GET FOR $1??

      How about we make everything cheaper? I want a house, they should be $10, cars should be 50c, nevermind all the materials, people, expertise, training, planning, research etc that goes into making things like cars, all the people in that supply chain should just work for 10c a day so that we can sell a few more things at massively discounted prices. How the FUCK would that work? As Micheal said, people/businesses have things called overheads, rent, electricity and ah... STAFF. Would you agree to work at your job for a fraction of the pay you receive now? Just so a few more people could buy some stuff?

      This makes no sense to me.

        Yeah. If you're not willing to spend a dollar for a song I've really got to question whether you're willing to pay anything for the song, or even if you're willing to take five seconds to go to the checkout. I'd spend twice as much as it costs to buy a song on a game of pool. Hell, I'd spend twice as much to hear it on the jukebox once. Now I think about it even the cost of the call to the radio station wasn't much cheaper than buying it on iTunes.

        Musicians don't make much money from songs and albums they never have, musicians make most of their money from concerts, so seriously stfu.

        Take it easy Roh I completely understand your point but I addressed most of it in my reply to Michael. We are all dealing in hypothetical here. I don't have statistics, there really is no data available but neither do you.

        All I am saying is, the cheapest services are also the most popular ie Netflix, iTunes. In the case of iTunes, it's still a little expensive which is where I see Spotify gaining ground, it's already number 2 with it's all you can eat subscription model (still a little pricey imo)

        But of course you need a bunch of other factors like ease of use, efficiency ... but the number 1 thing in my opinion as to why those two services are as popular as they are is because of price. That's the bottom line.

        Also you are making an assumption like I am making one, except without an example. You think that you would get less money without enough of marked return from customers? Where is your evidence or at least an example of this fact? I actually believe it would give me a pay rise in the right environment (say a theatre) due to the sheer amount of people who would wander what's the point of spending $18 at Hoyts to watch a single film and then I'd obliterate the competition like Netflix and iTunes has.

        iTunes and Netflix might not be a complete and utter ideal model in my opinion but it's closer than a bunch of other service, especially anything before they existed . I just think as these two examples have shown ...the bottom line is cheap. It's the biggest reasons as to why people will migrate too when it comes to media.

        It would also put a severe dent on piracy, possibly bring it down to near obsolete. All hypothetical of course but is it not worth a try?

    The Pirate Movie is the most my favourite movie of all time. You keep putting pics of it in articles and i'll keep reading them.

      damnit so many errors made in my excitement

    My concerns are with paying for downloads twice. First you pay for the ability to download with an ISP (usually with a limit). Then your possibly paying again for downloading, when you pay to view movies or such from a 3rd party.
    I know there are a number ISP's selling Bundles with Pay Subscription channels. But then your stuck with the issue described above, about being limited to what you can watch depending on how this company wants to release or televise shows.
    My preference would be to have the ability to select what I want to watch, when I want to watch it and have it not metered via my ISP.

      So basically, what you really want is to get everything you want at basically zero cost to you. Well, no shit, who WOULDN'T want that? The point is whether it's practical or ethical to do so, and what you're willing to do if you don't get your way.

      You're not paying for downloads twice. You're paying for internet service, then paying for entirely separate content. So then you have to pay for electricity to watch the movie. And you have to buy the computer to connect to the electricity and internet. And you have to buy a car to go to the store to get the PC. And you have to buy petrol to put in the car. Don't forget the cost of the house in which to park your car, computer and arse. And the council rates and land tax on top of that. Woe is you. Cry me a river.

      They're all separate products, provided by separate companies. Having one doesn't automatically entitle you to others. Which really gets down to the crux of the issue: entitlement. We constantly hear about all the reasons not to buy a product. You don't like the product? Fine. Don't like the price? Fine. Don't like the distribution method? Fine. Have some moral opposition to the company or their actions? Fine. I don't give a shit.
      Then DON'T BUY THE PRODUCT. It's not rocket science.

      Any action taken beyond "not buying" (ie. piracy) means a certain someone has a certain sense of entitlement they've clearly proven they don't deserve. Those "you wouldn't steal a car" ads aren't there to say that a victim of car theft is as put out as a victim of piracy, as many pirates claim they are: they're there to show the ridiculous, imaginary line of reasoning that some unbalanced individuals seem to draw between not wanting to buy a luxury item - yes, let's remember we're talking about LUXURY ITEMS, not bread and water here - and feeling entitled to it.

        HA! hold up, take a chill pill. When did I say that I wasn't going to pay for a product and suggest I was going to pirate products? I was merely suggesting that when signing up with your ISP, there are multimedia web services for free within that contract, that would usually be paid for separately. Hopefully giving me the ability to watch what I want, when I want.
        I understand the concept of buying and selling. Just because you can buy things separately, it doesn't mean it can't be done smarter. If I lease a car through work, as part of that contract it covers fuel, services and insurance, in one easy payment a fortnight. Why couldn't this be applied to internet use? I believe this is done by some ISP's but I think it needs to be done better.
        Your ISP holds a bigger bargaining chip and could provide the products at a cheaper cost within your ISP bill. Money is still going to the companies that produce the products. If your already paying for a service to access the internet, that provides you free access to watch a movie you want to, what would be the point of pirating the movie?

          I say free, but I mean paid subscription.
          If your already paying for a service to access the internet, that provides you a paid subscription to watch a movie you want to, what would be the point of pirating the movie?

    For a long time, Daria wasn't available in Australia.
    I ended up downloading a tv rip, as I have of Malcolm in the Middle and Tiny Toon Adventures for the same reasons.
    However, I use Daria as an example because through some explorative shopping I found a shop in Melbourne which had the full Daria Collection imported from USA. So I bought it and played it through my regionless DVD player.
    I have now bought the Australian version and the US version on to a friend.
    I also did something similar with Deathnote.
    If Malcolm in the Middle ever comes to DVD I will do the same.
    The point I'm trying to make is my experience of pirating is one of content denial, which is rectified when the situation changes.
    I don't have the patience to pirate video games, but there are many I don't buy simply because I don't think I'll like them, but I'm more likely to get the collectors editions of ones that I do.

    There will always be people who want something for nothing and they often end up with an entire suitcase of pirated dvds after travelling which they never end up watching.
    There will always be people willing to pay for quality content. Hopefully, there will always be enough.

      I do the same thing. I am a big fan of Adult Swim, and for a while there wasn't any DVD releases so i resorted to watching the shows on TV, and if i really enjoyed them, torrenting them on my computer. Madman has since kept up with all the DVD releases and even have a few region 4 exclusive titles not even available in the US, since then i have deleted the shows off my computer and bought the DVDs when i could.

      Malcolm In The Middle won't ever get released on DVD (or at least after season 1) because the music they used in the show was only licensed for broadcast and not for reproduction on another media format. It would cost too much to put the same music on DVD. Daria had similar issues, which is why most of the original music was omitted and for Malcolm, its constantly aired on free and cable channels. Though i heard that the entire MITM series will be released in the UK, but its been delayed.

      Similar deal with music, i prefer buying records instead of inferior digital music. As for games, i've only DL'd games that are difficult to find, like the Earthbound series. Point is if I enjoy this particular product then i will support it with my money, even if i downloaded it first. if only more people did the same, then we wouldn't have bills and schemes like SOPA and PIPA or whatever the new ones are.

    Games really dont have much of an piracy problem compared to TV, Movies and Music. If any one goes on to the torrents will discover that games have significantly less seeds and leeches to the hordes on the latest dvd release. Developers and publishers should embrace no DRM and look at pirates not as lost sales but simply as a sign that these people see no value in your product, what am I doing wrong.

    Now Movies on the other hand has a loads of serious problems in regards to how their content is delivered, in fact is kinder sad that Pirates are defeating the Movie industry in nearly every field (except cinemas) when it comes to consumer choice and experience. If you want to watch a Movie legit, you have to Buy the DVD, but make sure your in the right region! then go though 10 minutes of ads,anti piracy messages, un skippable intros as well as slow menus which is sometimes broken when you lost the remote, Or you can stream the movie over the net, which is low quality and unreliable because of Australia's poor internet quality. Now proceed to piracy and you can, download at any format and file size you desire be it AVI, MP4, MKV, which plays on every device that can play video content, at what download and quality size, be it compact <500MB or the regular 700MB or the HD 1.4GB or the high quality 2-5+ GB, which for the first 3 can usually get within an hour of downloading, also there is no ads, no anti piracy messages, just straight to the movie goodness you can enjoy any time you fill like it, and if you dont fill like waiting you can stream while downloading. I would pay for these options if there was some Steam like service for Movies, and if they do that and get it right then improve over the pirates then piracy will go down, no doubt., but if they continue to have their head up their arse and start pushing these Laws and suing people and more aggressive DRM , then Piracy for Movies is going to continually rise up and up.

    As for TV, if they simply put it all on the internet globally with Ads, piracy will decline because of it., its not that Hard!, people will watch the ads over piracy if they are manageable and not channel 9 levels. 30 Seconds before the show, and 30 seconds in every add break.

    If something is good enough, I'll buy it.
    Case in point - I've got all 4 seasons of Breaking Bad pirated, and will download season 5 as it starts coming out. But when they release a deluxe, twenty disc Blu-Ray version in a box shaped like Gus's super-lab, I'll buy it the instant it comes on sale.
    I bought the Game of Thrones blu-ray upon release, despite having seen the series and having had it on my hard drive for months. Sometimes the value lies in what they give you in terms of extras, commentaries, documentaries, etc. The extras on the Game of Thrones blu-ray justify the price on their own, let alone the show itself!

    Just charge the proper, fair price, what's so hard?

    I buy TV series - but only on Blu-Ray. I'm prepared to pay that cost for the sort of premium quality that you can't get anywhere else - not even high def TV channels. To me, why pay for a DVD of a TV show, when I can pay nothing and have BETTER quality at 720p.. What frustrates me is places like JB and EzyDVD have paltry selections as far as TV series on blu-ray are concerned

    Gotta say it shits me to tears having to sit through the anti-piracy warnings, the AFACT advert, skip through the previews on something I have just bought... mchaza hit the nail on the head. Tired of format changes too, videos to DVD to Blu-Ray; the cut-down extras on Australian releases and then finding somewhere to store the damn things. Bit-torrent popularity is there because it offers what people want; they don't even have to pay for it.

    The thing that stops me buying movies these days is the fact that if I want to watch a blu-ray I need to have everything in my house authorized before they stop treating me like the criminal that I am.

    I don't want to buy a HDCP TV, Player then pay 40 dollars for a new release blu-ray to watch commercials for 10 minutes before the movie tells me one of my connections isn't certified.

    This hasn't really driven me to piracy, I have pretty much stopped watching movies. It gives me more time for games :D

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