This Is What Dinosaurs Do

This Is What Dinosaurs Do

This is what dinosaurs do: they stomp on things. They move slowly. Their brains are too small for their massive bodies. They lumber. They shriek at the sky. They go extinct.

Many people have asked me to write about SOPA on Kotaku, and I understand the reasons why. Standing up against tyranny is important. Very important. My opinion was simple, the last thing the world needed was another article/video/post/tweet about a situation that was clearly black and white: they are wrong and we are right. SOPA is a terrible piece of legislation written by dinosaurs and it should not, will not, stand.

What interests me more is content and how we consume it. How will we consume it in the future? How will it be delivered to us?

How will we pay for it?

SOPA is a dinosaur’s response to the slow burn collapse of business models that have existed since media was first sold. You transfer content on to something physical and you sell that thing. If you’re smart, you sell it to them three or four times. I have Star Wars on VHS. I have Star Wars on DVD. I assume, in the near future, I will own Star Wars on Blu-ray.

But we’re fast approaching a point where I will never have to pay money for Star Wars again if I don’t want to. In fact, we’ve hit a point where it’s actually easier for me to not pay for the media I want. It’s easier for me to pirate content than pay for it. Much easier.

This is what dinosaurs do: they stomp on things. If I buy a PC game, if I pay money for it, I have to deal with DRM. If I pirate that game I don’t. If I buy a movie on Blu-ray I have to sit through unskippable trailers for movies I don’t want to watch and, hilariously, suffer advertisements ordering me not to pirate content. If I torrent said movie I don’t have to deal with this.

Seriously, what is wrong with this picture? You advertise to consumers who don’t pay for content, not those who do. You tell people who pirate to stop pirating, not the people who have just bought what you’re selling.

This is what dinosaurs do: they shriek at the sky.

Why not make it easier for consumers to buy your content? Why not price it reasonably? Why not make it easier for consumers to buy your content than it is to pirate it? People will come; in droves.

This Is What Dinosaurs Do

It’s easier to buy video games on Steam at a reasonable price, so I buy video games from Steam. It’s easier for me to find obscure music on iTunes, so I buy music from iTunes. It was easier for me to purchase, then download, Louis CK’s latest stand up direct from his site, so I did exactly that.

We don’t need to change, you do. You need to provide us with the alternative. You need to sell us your product — that’s how this whole business thing works. You sell us stuff, you sell it to us in a way that is convenient, you convince us of its value. You don’t introduce bills that crush our abilities to communicate with one another, you don’t sell us software that impedes our ability to consume your product, you don’t arrest us in our homes.

Find a way to sell us the content we want to buy — quickly — because, if you don’t, someone else will. Speed up. Surprise me. You have quick, easy access to more consumers than you ever imagined possible, but instead of taking advantage you’re doing your level best to destroy this beautiful thing — this lightning rod for commerce. Lumbering across the landscape, your brains too small for your humongous body; lashing out, fighting to survive in the least effective way imaginable.

This is what Dinosaurs do: they move slowly, they stomp on things. Learn to move faster, or accept your fate, and do what all dinosaurs are destined to do eventually: go extinct.


  • Fantastic writing as always, and a point well argued.

    Might I add that, personally, I’m very happy that you chose to make a post about aspects of this American legislation from the view of the world-wide consumer, and hopefully some other places pick up on it and discuss the world-wide implications of this American debate.

  • Yes essentially the buzzword is convenience, which is a point that’s been brought up over and over again, including here on Kotaku. But the businesses still think “money” is the most important issue.

  • I’ve always thought it was ludicrous that I had bought a DVD and was being punished for doing so by having to watch the SAME DAMN CLIP over and over no matter what I bought.

    I always hear that Netflix (in the US) is easier than pirating for movies and TV, sort of like Bigpond movies, which is pretty easy but expensive as hell for new movies that you can watch for 48 hours and then have to pay again.

    But I agree, pirating sometimes seems to be the simpler route online, especially at 10 at night when I want to watch a movie but the shop is a 5 minute drive but it’s closed. Once media companies start to make purchasing a product easier, piracy is likely to shrnk.

  • Leave Dinosaurs out of it Serrels, they’re cool.

    Good article otherwise. I miss the days when DVDs and Blu-Rays didn’t feature 10 minutes of ads and anti pirate messages at the start.

  • Nice article Mark, and it echoes things a few people have been saying. Merely that the market is speaking, and the market is bigger than ever before and consequently so is its voice.

    Your examples ring true for many. Echoing you, I have bought more music and more games than ever since the mechanisms for doing so aligned in a way that was convenient for me (steam/itunes/analogous software). It’s important to note too, that convenient doesn’t necessarily have to mean cheap (though it sure is good when it is), either. They’re neither mutually entwined or exclusive.

    I have purchased more things after pirating them than ever before. Try-before-you-buy, once a right of every consumer, has been eroded away as a right, but not as a function. It is now pirate-before-you-buy for many, myself included.

    Every internet-connected person is now a global consumer, with global purchasing power. 10 years ago if the book store didn’t have what you wanted at the price you wanted, that was that, too bad for you. Now though, that book can be bought from a hundred different places, probably at a hundred different price points, and it’s too bad for that book shop if it hasn’t adapted to the other 99.

    • While I agree with most of what you’ve said, ‘try-before-you-buy’ has never been a consumer’s right, but a privilege. Demos, for example, were released in a bid to attract interest to a product (and, when feasible, are generally good business sense unless your game is terrible), but they weren’t something that consumers automatically deserved to have by nature of being a consumer. Demos also cost additional money and resources to put together, as you’re either taking away staff who are working on the main game in order to package up what is essentially a tiny version of the full game, or bringing in another team to do the same thing (also costing money).

      By your argument, every supermarket should offer free samples of any product that somebody may be interested in, in order for them to try-before-you-buy. This just isn’t realistic or feasible, and it isn’t anybody’s god-given right as a consumer.

      Please note that this isn’t a personal attack on you, just an attempt to further discussion on quite an interesting topic.

      • But in a supermarket, if I’ve never had Coke before I can try a 375ml can (or I think there are 250ml bottles?) before I go and buy a 30 can box or 2L bottle.

        In the case of XBLA, every arcade game is also a demo/trial. A demo is not a completely disconnected product, it’s just a subset of the full game.

        There are always exceptions, but for the most part we can try before we buy. Test drive a car, inspect a house, try on clothes, and only purchase if we’re satisfied. That or we can buy in a smaller quantity before making a bulk purchase.

        Hell, my parents will eat grapes, nectarines, peaches, etc… while walking around the fruit market doing their shopping.

  • If I could watch Supernatural, or Fringe, or Sherlock, online, legally, on the websites of the companies who made them, I would. I would sit through online ad breaks, even. (I watched Castle like this on the Seven site for a few weeks.)

    But I can’t. And I’m not going to be excluded from the online discussion because I live in a country that’s far away from America. So I pirate, and they make no money off me.

    Now, that’s a lie, because I have a personal rule to buy anything I download once it’s available legally (I don’t want the content creators to suffer because I’m impatient), but I’m sure that’s not true for everyone. Make it convenient for me, and I’ll sit through the marketing that has to be there to ensure it keeps getting made.

    • I have an opposite rule: I only pirate TV if I feel its the only way to access the content in a timely fashion, but once I do pirate, that’s it – no money from me. If I buy an inflated price for a DVD box set at a later date, it doesn’t encourage them to make it cheap online at the same time.

    • So glad Fringe is back (I count airing in America as being ‘back’ as like you piracy is my only way to see it).

      If they had them up on an online store somewhere for say a dollar an episode (with first 5 free to get me interested), they would’ve made $68 off me so far rather than the zero I’ve paid thus far.

      I may buy some of it one day, but I like watching shows as they’re released, talking about them online, checking out the previews, all of that.

      But seriously, couple of free episodes, then a dollar a pop, discount if you buy the season in one bunch, bigger discount if you buy it all before it’s aired.

      So much money they could be having right now.

    • totally agree with you michael, i enjoy watching tv but have to wait weeks, months and sometimes a year to watch the same episode of a show on australian tv, foxtel included.
      Its 2012, we live in a global community, every country is connected
      it shouldnt take this long for content to reach “the distant lands known as Australia”
      technology has increased in leaps and bounds, business needs to catch up

  • Well written Mark. For me SOPA was just an anagram on the interweb, not paying any attention to it until a few days ago.

    Now me and every other level headed person who actually like the 21st century are thinking, ‘are you guys effing serious???’ ‘That is your answer?!’

    It is just mind blowing that ‘they’ don’t realise/don’t know how to actually get through to us as consumers.

    The points you made were spot on, give me a reason to be a paying consumer again, don’t destroy the best information and communication tool ever invented…. Wankers.

  • I download my favourite sitcoms because AUSTRALIAN TV SUCKS ASS!!
    Honestly its all just Singing contests with guys singing like autotuned muppets,fat people trying to lose weight, & cooking shows. Great now ive made myself mad now lol

    • I can’t wait until we have a proper on demand IPTV service. iView doesn’t cut it, you should be able to watch any episode from any show, of any season, either for free with ads or purchase the episode outright without ads with a variety of quality settings from 480p to 1080p.

      Provide a service like that with reasonable pricing and good servers, and I’ll stop pirating TV shows. At the moment I have two choices; Pirate and watch it whenever I want as soon as it’s aired in the US or wait a month and be restricted to a single airing with ads.

      As Gabe Newell said; Piracy is a service problem. Though I do feel that retailers have been incredibly rigid with their pricing schemes.

      • Nice one Oliver, I’ve always said that content (particularly at the price the US enjoys) and I’d go straight, and also suggested pricing strategies as you put in your post, but never thought of the free Ad supported version. You could also make that at a pretty poor quality as well to encourage users to purchase.

        Seriously, there are 6 billion people on this planet that can be reached without physical distribution logistics. Setup the content distribution servers and release to them all. All you need to do is make a $1 per episode out of one tenth of the population and you are into $600 million people. Surely that is a better business plan than trying to squeeze $20 million out of someone on the average wage (which they wil not earn pre tax in a lifetime!)

  • Disappointed to see this article was not about dinosaurs, Mark. Very disappointed.

    Oh but that didn’t stop it from being great. AND TRUE.

  • If anything, they need to emulate exactly what Dinosaurs did: when the environment changed, they evolved into birds.

  • A great rule of business that I learned from Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal: Make it as easy as possible for people to give you money.

    The entertainment industry has done everything in their collective powers to break that rule. Regional restrictions and lengthy delays in releases are huge problems that shouldn’t exist now.

  • I have to agree with the Steam example. I go fits and bursts of being an ethical consumer. However, I haven’t pirated a game since I got steam because of the superior service it offers. Its just so much easier.

    Note: this is why I think Origin is doomed to fail. I’ve dealt with EA clients enough to know it will be easier just to pirate ME3. In actual fact I probably won’t play it at all, but if I did, best case scenario I’d buy a box copy and use a crack.

  • ‘Content not available in your geographic region’ is about the suckiest message you can read on the internet which then just sends people elsewhere to watch the thing that they want to watch now and will eventually buy on dvd/bluray.

    Because let’s face it, while some channels are more than happy to give us shit like Glee directly ‘off the satellite’, I noticed the ad showing how Dexter Season 5 is finally hitting our screens over a year after the US…

    • Oh man the red mist descends upon my eyes every time that pops up in front some .swf. I can’t bothered buying a VPN just to view Hulu, BBC or HBO stuff either, and really, I shouldn’t have to.

      Region blocking/licencing, Y U STILL EXIST IN 2012!?

    • I agree. In a world where damn near everything is digitally connected to everything else, being told you can’t watch/buy/play what you want because you don’t live in the right area strikes me as completely and utterly ludicrous

  • Nice article.

    Seriously tough, I (like many others here) was hoping for a post about actual dinosaurs. I think you owe us one. It can be a Plunkett-style post – one or two lines linking to a video… but definitely featuring dinosaurs. Preferably Triceratops, Stegasaurous, Dynonichus and Brachiosaurus. Some combination of those beasts, ideally in a big epic fight. Feel free to add your own favourites too.

    Cheers in advance, Milbo

  • Hear hear, Mark. I find the current environment for purchasing games and music to be good.

    The movies and TV shows situation is terrible. The logos, ads, menus on DVDs/blurays are so slow and frustrating; I just want the content quickly. I’m happy to buy digitally as long as I can play it on all my devices i.e. no DRM!

  • I linked this article to my local MP, not that this is happening in Australia yet, but I feel if America does the rest of the little brother countries will do it too. Don’t just stop SOPA/PIPA/ACTA stop internet censorship worldwide.

  • Great article, I used to pirate a whole lot when I was younger (e.g student days) but now I have spent so much more on all these titles, yet I still pirate, why ? cos there are some games that are simply not available here.

  • So what you’re saying is that we need a John Hammond figure to take the DNA (Content) from the Dinosaurs and create Jurassic Park (Hulu or Netflix like service)?

    The fat guy trying to steal the embryos is government regulation or something

  • This article had “Download this song” ringing in my head which, interestingly, was most popular in Australia.
    Basically takes a rip at record companies for focussing on CDs and ignoring digital distribution for pretty mch the same reason.
    While people should be able to protect their IP, from what I understand of SOPA and PIPA, they’re basically giving the NRA the keys to the military and special operations armoury.

  • You know what scares me about Megaupload that is currently being glossed over quite a bit.

    These guys being arrested are not American citizens.

    Megaupload is not an American company.

    And yet when the Entertainment Industry and their friends in the American government get scared and decide that they are breaking American laws they are branded as INTERNATIONAL CRIMINALS have their homes raided and are extradited by their own governments to America.

    That’s scary, disgusting and makes me ashamed to be a New Zealander.

  • No dinosaurs? Awww

    Spot on about the market, though. This is why I read kotakuAU – smart thinkers, yup yup.

    Not that they deserve help getting out of the big big water they’ve gotten themselves in, but here’s an idea to fight piracy, for our dear large publisher friends:

    Piracy happens because it’s easier, not because it’s cheaper. People actually like to own things, surprisingly enough. Ads are annoying, previews at the start of movies are annoying, and “You wouldn’t download a car” is both annoying and totally wrong(we would given the chance). Pirated movies don’t have that, on top of being easier to get. The solution? Let us download the movie/show/whatever! Replace the ad revenue with a subscription service(not one that locks content we already own, that defeats the purpose). This sub lets us watch tv over the internet, ad-free(maybe even earlier). If you don’t have the sub, you get the ads, but can still watch it over the internet. If you really like the movie, show, or whatever, you can purchase it afterwards and download it to portable devices, or whatever. The second you make this as easy as pirating, people will be all over it – especially if you let it be retrieved at a later date if you loose it. Yes, it will still be pirated, but less, and you’ll actually get part of the internet market now and make more money overall. Alternatively, you can continue as you are and become completely redundant, instead of just mostly redundant.

    Much love,
    the people who actually live in this century.

  • Properly great article. One small negative nelly though- “they” already are following the same logic as you. They’ve just turned it on its head:
    People will do what is easiest.
    Currently, it is easier to pirate than buy some content.
    Solution: Make piracy harder.

    Will it work? Pretty unlikely- the internet will just find a new way to make it easier again. Won’t stop them trying though.

  • And yet, how many people here would be giddy as school kids if someone said they would take them to see a dinosaur tomorrow? 😉

  • Nail meet head.

    Nice work Mr Serrels and straight to the heart of the matter.

    Bring on better distribution and pricing now publishers/etc. (Note pricing is less important than better distribution in this matter at this time, but still an issue).

  • I’ve seen a read so many articles about SOPA over these last few weeks that every time I see a new one it feel like an arrow in the knee. But Dinosaurs…. RAWR!!!! Dinosaurs rule, even after seeing this was about SOPA I read it to the end and well me being a sucker for analogies and all, I loved it. Great article Mark and I think your right, these dinosaurs need to evolve or prepare to be super seeded by mammals. It’s true all they’re doing is stomping on and blaming all the consumers for their business failures. Making your consumers adapt rather then adapting yourself is a terrible business model!!!

  • Well said mate. Might want to link to the following articles on the gross lies the supporters of SOPA tell on how many jobs/ how much money is lost due to piracy. For convenience:
    And a fabulous article on the whole thing by the inestimable John Walker:

  • Last night I thought I’d like to purchase Inception, because I like that movie. Went to download – Zune or iTunes, $20+ for a movie in SD that I can’t realistically lend to my Mum.

    Go to Inception BRD + DVD + “digital copy” for $15.98, free shipping in Australia and it’s part of their “2 for $30” promotion.

    uhh… what? I know it’s convenient and all to download it, but why should I pay more for a product that is inferior in every measurable way except for convenience? And not just convenient for me: there are none of the regular issues associated with inventory; and I have to factor the ~2.5GB download into my own monthly quota!

    There is a huge opportunity to get it right and deliver what I want, how I want.

  • Love chu, Mark ^_^ you put butterflies in my stomach so that they can churn the ice-cream from within and keep me my sweet, docile in nature self.

  • It’s the same for me in terms of comics. With the comixology app it’s easier and faster to pay and download them legally. They have a really poor selection of manga so the only way to get that on my iPad is to illegally read it online.

  • Mark, my dinosaur finds it highly offensive that you think they all shriek at the sky! 😛

    but in all seriousness, agreed. There is another simple way of putting to words the affects of SOPA. “Guilty until proven innocent”

    Now, companies have to prove that there is an infringement on their products. but with SOPA in place…the onus is on us. WE have to prove to THEM that what we put online si within their guidelines.

    This does not benefit us in any way, shape or form.

    • Yeah, totally. It’s like treating the end-user as if they’re an entire corporation themselves. In no way are corporations and individuals meant to share the same responsibilities or rights, the corporation by nature of having people power is automatically more powerful and therefore should have less (or different) rights and more responsibility, the individual though is only one man, it’s crazy to expect them to meet the company on equal grounds! 🙁

      Now, if a corporation, and not individual clients on a corportaiton, but the actual organisation itself officially infringes on another’s rights, then that’s fine, they’re equals, they’re meant to then fight it out in a court of law and sue the other one. But an individual can’t stand up to that. An individual doesn’t spend exorbitant amounts on legal staff and doesn’t have millions of dollars of collateral to protect themselves from legal threats…. Sad stuff this world 🙁

  • Didn’t read all the comments but I agree with what most are saying: great article, we pirate coz it’s easier, SOPA etc sux, etc etc.

    Further to all that; Mr Serrells, I think this article highlights exactly the reason so many wanted you to write it.

    You’re not just saying “SOPA is wrong and dangerous!” You talk about what the people behind SOPA are trying to do and their reasons and why that method won’t work and what would work instead.

    That, sir, is damned good journalism and a joy to read.

  • The publishing companies place all sorts of restrictions on downloaded media to make it harder to purchase. Even if they’ve put something on iTunes or Amazon, have they put it in a store that’s actually accessible to you? iTunes segments the market by address on credit card; Amazon by geography of your IP address.

    Buying Australian content from overseas is near impossible unless you double, triple the over-the-counter cost by paying postage for physical media. Not much music turns up on international download stores, and almost zero TV. Maybe, maybe a region-constrained DVD will turn up one day, but by that time you can’t talk to your mates back home about it because it’s 1-2 years later and they moved on to something else.

    Likewise we don’t even get to see more than a fraction of the content pushed into iTunes stores in the UK, US and elsewhere. It’s only the smaller artist-managed labels that are nimble enough to sell downloads from their own sites. If an Australian hooks up with a major label then they’ll be “contained” indefinitely and not marketed overseas.

    Read an Australian newspaper, or walk into a newsagent and look at the magazine rack pertaining to media and popular culture. SPOILERS will jump out from every angle because they’re talking about shows or seasons yet to air in Australia. The global conversation is immediate.

  • To me, if I could combine Valve and Notch, I reckon that’s the best set of responses you could get to piracy. People like them should be leading the charge against piracy, using marketing, attractive deals and good value over ad hominem attempts to persecute the “offenders”. Unfortunately, we have the opposite type of guys leading the charge – guys who think they deserve wealth, that someone’s depriving them of a hypothetical increase in said wealth, and that they deserve whatever means necessary to correct that situation.

    Luckily, the world isn’t full of people with that mentality, because if it were, I can only imagine the world would be very, very single-minded and boring 🙁

    • To demonstrate my point – Valve does a lot of deals through steam, which anyone during the holiday season using steam would know. Sure, I’m a bit sore that all I won during that time was Beat Hazard (:P – fun game though), but because of all the coupons they gave out, ended up being able to buy Portal 2 for only 14AUD. If it weren’t for deals like that, which also allowed me to get the entire HL2 series too, I would probably have pirated them instead, since I didn’t even know if they’d work on my computer. But because Valve put Steam and HL2 on mac, and lowered the price of the game to something reasonable for its age, I could buy the whole lot. Similarly, I’m sure if Portal 2 will work on my old Mac Mini, but I decided to take the risk – the price was good, and Valve so far have (involuntarily) treated me well, and shown that they are a trustworthy vendor.

      But I wouldn’t have done the same for other companies, with DRM that causes problems with Wine and Wineskin, or unscalable game settings, or prices 2-3 times higher than the rest of the world. So for PC gaming, I think Valve is a great example. Consoles are a bit different, but aren’t really pirated that much anyway spare the DS, Wii and Xbox, although the DS and Wii’s lack of demos don’t help their case, the Xbox’s great range of demos though makes that a bit strange.

  • Firstly, why/how can American Legislation be allowed to effect property outside of the USA?? If the servers are in China, what right does the US have to stop access to those servers for everybody in the world??

    Secondly, it’s about control. These content owners have large distribution monopolies and there’s are a lot of money involved in these. I agree with the general statement of the article. I’m not going to wait for the content owner to decide when it’s best to release their content to us (over here in Australia) when I can easily get access to it via other means, please wake up. There is also (/was) a lot of money in the theater distribution, personally, I’d like to see the a theater that seated anywhere from 6 and over, that provided a library of content that I could hire for family and friends – this would simply make it more worth while going out and and seeing “stuff”…

    Mind you, know days I can do this in the comfort of my own home 😛

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