Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Piracy Issue Is Still Relevant. Read on.

Piracy, aside from being so 2001, is a loaded term. In the scheme of internet terms, nothing good can come out of it. Or so what the copyright holders would like us to think.

In a recent consumer research, it was found that piracy has a lot more positive side to it than conventional wisdom gives it credit for. It said that contrary to popular belief, pirates actually end up paying the copyright owners more. While the markets may suffer at the beginning (as it in fact did), the same people who patronized piracy eventually decided the goods are worth their money. In particular, the study “found that people who view pirated material tended to do so as extended previews before going on to pay money for the full version”. This study however was shelved as the client found it too upsetting and dangerous to use.

As a self-confessed pirate since piratebay’s inception, I must say that the study holds good common sense. All selfish interests aside, I dare say that piracy is the number one proponent of cultural and information exchanges. Take hallyu for example (kpop is my favourite kind of ICT illustration, I know and I can’t do anything about it sorry). The music companies found a way to use piracy to their advantage. They would allow content sharing in different downloading sites (sometimes even before the release of an album) and then use the previews to get the word out that your favourite kpop idol group is promoting an album. Come launch time and notwithstanding the fact that every person with internet connection basically has a copy of the entire discography, the sales of physical albums and even those in iTunes would skyrocket. It’s just plain genius. The industry has found a way to make the physical units more sellable by offering it in every fangirl’s dream package, complete with photobook and drool-worthy boxes. The fans who pirated the same stuff from a week before can be seen lining up just to get a limited edition dream package. And the profits from such marketing strategy are not a joke. See, not only does piracy promote culture. It also sets off healthy competition in the market because everyone has to compete not only with each other but also against the easily accessible and FREE piratebays. So that at the end of the day, profits only come to those who offer quality and spend-worthy goods.

Software piracy is of a different level of course. It’s not like consumers will be enticed to shell out thousands of pesos for the real deal when the decrypted software runs just fine. So let me be bold as to suggest that piracy is allowable only in cultural spheres; that which advances cultural exchange and the right to information. Of course the argument against crippling the SMEs by criminalizing the use of pirated software in businesses can also be offered as to support the liberalization of all types of piracy. But unlike cultural piracy, software piracy is harder to understand. The dynamics are just not the same. The consumer spending not that willing. Software companies would always argue for protection of trade because unlike culture, they can’t make their goods sellable by putting it in bright shiny boxes.

I know that there is a Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team ready to crack down businesses around the Metro using pirated software. And then there’s the Optical Media Board which raids Makati Cinema Square every so often. It already closed down the dvd mecca of all our artsy fartsy desires that is Quiapo, and for that we will forever be muttering expletives under our breaths. But will all these crack downs be enough to address the concerns of piracy in the 4th leading ‘pirating’ country in Asia (that’s us btw)? As proposed in the class discussions, the best answer would be found in the middle ground. Where that can be found is hard to tell. I don’t know if the Legislature can tell us. In the meantime, the cultural vendors in our country has a thing or two to learn from the Koreans... or better yet, from Prof. Gigo (yehesss). Get it out there for free first, prove us your worth in these peso-scrounging times. Then we’ll talk.

Entry # 7

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