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War on Piracy: Soon to Be the Most Expensive War

According to an article from the New Zealand Herald, The Recording Industry Assocation of New Zealand has spent $250,000 trying to chase down music pirates, but has only been able to collect $616.57 in damages, and that was only from one person, might I add. If you do the math however, that’s a profit of -$249,383.43.The article goes on to state that there is a 3 strike policy for copyright notices, and after a third strike the association can order an offender to pay up to $15,000, which has yet to actually happen.

Why has the Assocation spent so much money on chasing down pirates which usually won’t be able to pay the outrageous fees anyhow? According to the Rianz, they must pay $25 for each copyright notice they have an ISP send out. Rianz lastly goes on to say that they have tried to convince the government to lower the fee down to $2 a piece and would be sending around 5000 notices a month if they fee was lowered.

Now here’s the deal. Why would any company or organization continue to spend that kind of money when they aren’t getting results. Do the math and so far the Recording Industry Assocation of New Zealand has only made 0.24% of their investment back, and you can bet that they are going to continue pursuing these copyright claims as all the recording industries have been lately.

The reason the recording industry can claim that they are loosing money is because they really are. No one in their right mind would continue to spend money when the return on investment has been so low. Yes, piracy is a problem and I 100% agree with and understand that. However, the approach to it might not be that great. How can it be properly approached in order to stop it? If I knew the answer to that, I’d be a billionaire right now.

What has Caused Piracy?

It’s simple really, people no longer believe in paying for digital content. Who is to blame for this? I think a lot of it probably has to do with Google. They have created a business model where you provide the content and service for free, and then support it and make a profit through ads. Here’s where the problem comes in. Some people get so greedy that they don’t even want to see those ads, even though they are getting a service (we’ll use Gmail as an example) for free that they could easily be paying $5 – $10 a month for. If you block ads (and we’re talking about sidebar ads, not popups) then you are in essence stealing, because every ad impression on a site drives up cpm, and if that website is using an ad publisher that operates off of cost-per-click system (such as AdSense) then that means more revenue for the website once someone clicks on it just because you saw that ad.

Another thing that could potentially have caused piracy is the big boom in free software. Originally when large companies started to adopt the free software model it was to offer you a lighter version of a full program for free, and if you liked it you could buy the full suite if you needed all of that. This model also came to smartphones, and eventually we began seeing single developers developing applications for free just for the heck of it. People are no longer used to paying for what something is worth. I can name about 5 applications on my phone that I would be willing to pay $5 for and have since donated to those developers, because it does cost money and time to develop an application.

You Can’t Ignore History

No matter which way you look at it and however many times you try to justify it, piracy is steeling. Whether it’s legal or ethical is for you to decide, but either way it’s a form of steeling. Steeling has been around even since the common dollar, because in all reality no matter how much money a person might have, they still don’t like spending money on someone until they truly see a reason for spending that much money on someone. A millionaire might spend $250,000 on a new Ferarri simply to impress his friends that all drive $100,000 Mercedes. However, that same millionaire might not see any value in paying to have their pool professionally treated when they can just as well buy a $50 kit from the store and do it themselves in minutes. Ever hear the assumption that if someone says they don’t have money, they might just mean they don’t see the value in spending their money on whatever it is that someone is recommending to them or trying to offer them? People aren’t going to spend money on something if they don’t see it worth the money or don’t truly want it.

And Lastly… Anti-Piracy Methods That Work

There have already been some great anti-piracy measures that have truly worked. One of them is Adobe Creative Cloud. As we all know, Adobe software is extremely expensive. The full Adobe software suite can run you over $1000. Adobe knows very well that a lot of individuals can’t afford that, so they introduced Adobe Creative Cloud, which is essentially a software leasing program. For $20 a month you get access to a single app as well as online storage. When Adobe updates their app to a new version, you will get to use that new version at no additional charge. For $50 a month you can get access to the entire Adobe Creative Suite, as well as online storage. That’s pretty good, because even though with the full suite option of $50 per month you’ll be spending a total of $600 over the course of a year, the full software suite costs nearly twice that, and you have to pay another couple hundred when a new version come out.

Another anti-piracy method that I believe has worked very well is Spotify. Spotify allows you to search for any song on your computer and listen to it for free. For free users there is a limit and ads are played occasionally, but these ads help pay for the rights to play the songs. For $9 a month you can get unlimited listening on your computer and phone. That’s a pretty good deal, and the free option is especially great for those who don’t want to pay anything for their music. Sure, you don’t get to own a copy of the song, but you get all the music you want for free, so who’s complaining?

Will piracy ever end? Probably not. However, these efforts made by Adobe and Spotify, and many others that weren’t mentioned should help to keep it down to a minimum. People are never going to stop shoplifting, which means people are never going to stop pirating. We live in a materialistic society driven by the need, want, and desire for material things that should make us happy as well as make us look good to the other people around us. However, we all die eventually. Most of us will waste away 30 to 40 to even 50 years in some cases earning money to buy the house we want and the car we want, and once we die what we have left will be given to our loved ones or charities, to continue the endless cycle of earning to achieve our wants and desires.

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Paul Shirey

Can't talk, playing Xbox.