Women in Technology

Hear us Roar

  Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution
Subject:   Piracy
Date:   2002-12-13 12:12:17
From:   anonymous2
While Mr. O'Reilly's viewpoint on piracy is interesting, for me, the reality is different.

I produce and distribute a television-magazine style program on VHS and DVD - about model airplanes. Modestly successful in that they're available via just over 400 hobby shops across the nation, I nonetheless suffer from piracy. This despite the fact the 2-hour long videos sell for the princely sum of $6.99 each . . . so much for consumers doing the "right thing" if the price is fair.

How do I know about piracy? In part, it's because I sometimes see them pop up on E-Bay - and have even bought a few just to see what I'd get, and lo and behold, once it was a copy! I also have dealers who complain about model airplane club members who start a "club library" of my videos and loan them around (to the detriment of sales of course). It bothers me somewhat, but I can't do anything about it.

What bothers me more though are the occasional phone calls that go something like this, "A friend made them me copy of one of your videos, but it's a bit blurry and I can't read the part number on the servo you used . . ." What's worse is they ask would I mind telling them which it is! I tell them, of course, as insulting them is counterproductive, but all the while, I'm really wishing I could do a Bugs Bunny, i.e. travel through the phone line and choke them senseless through their handset!

Recently I started offering my wares on DVD. Guess what? I've already received a couple of messages from a folks telling me about their availability on the internet!

Do the right thing? Nah, folks would rather steal. Thus, Mr. O'Reilly, I think you are wrong.

Rant mode off,

John Beech - GM (and janitor)

Full Threads Oldest First

Showing messages 1 through 2 of 2.

  • Piracy
    2003-01-20 10:52:12  conureman [View]

    An interesting point on a complex subject. Some years ago I worked in a television repair shop. I often recieved phone calls that would have to be classified as "time wasters". Much time was spent explaining (and justifying) our basic minimum charges for diagnosis, and I also found myself listing possible diagnoses as per symptoms described over the phone. Aside from the lost time and occasional free repair- "Is the (dead) set plugged in?". I feel that the goodwill generated was a positive component of our business, and that very often it was the deciding factor on customer's decisions as to whom they would trust their repairs to. My point is that I saw overwhelming evidence that the majority of the time-wasters would never have been cash customers anyway, or that my free phone help was by far the cheapest way of getting rid of them. I readily referred the cost shoppers to my competitors, and let them have that segment of the market. We also had a rather unconditional Guarantee, which could be taken advantage of by the unscruplous, or extremely ignorant, for free service and repair. While I have noticed that morals seem to have declined recently here in the People's Republic of California, one of the cornerstones of our society is the actual fact that the majority of people will in fact try to do the right thing if it is not too unreasonable for their flexible morality to bear, as the warez guyz always claim- "If (insert name of popular Redmond WA company here) software was reasonably priced and bug-free (and standards-based?), then I'd be willing to pay for it." Personally, I'd just write those guyz off and stop losing sleep over their "business". While I don't expect to convince anybody that this is the way to do business, the public should protect itself from further harm by the Greedmeisters and Protectionist Weenies busy restricting and outlawing Common Law and Basic Human Rights. This is fundamentally more important than maximizing the profit margins of a few. Any how I agree with Tim's logic, that in fact the old laws were perfectly adequate for protection of property rights, and the new ones are stifling creativity and innovation as well as reducing actual revenues. Mutiny on the Ship Of Fools, anyone?
  • Tim O'Reilly photo Piracy
    2002-12-16 15:46:52  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

    I'm not saying that no one will take infringing copies without paying, just that the marginal number is less than the marginal benefit of the additional publicity. What I can't figure out is why you didn't take the opportunity to sell a video to the guy who called you! There's something between just rolling over, and wishing you could go through the phone and choke him! I would have reminded him that you depend on your sales, and offer to sell him a clearer copy.

    But I'll lay odds that what you did, helping him, might well lead him to buy from you in future.