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The chicken and the egg

Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I saw a headline over at Ars Technica that piqued my interest: "Piracy could put film industry out of business, group warns". I can't speak for anyone else (much as I try to), but I think this is one of the more ridiculous statements made this year.

My first argument, and this is a big one: How can piracy put the film industry out of business? If the industry goes out of business, there will be nothing to pirate. Now, this sort of thing has happened before, but it seems like maybe we'd learn from lessons past.

I mean, perhaps the industry's going the wrong way. When the adult price to see, for example, "Space Chimps" (1 hour, 21 minutes long) is $10 in Portland, how many people are going to pay that versus thinking "I could probably download that and see it for free"? How many people simply won't see it? I think any discussion of piracy needs to take a close look at the the composition of the pool of pirates: are they "would see" or "wouldn't see" people? The answer fundamentally changes the conversation.

Reading some of the comments on the article, it would appear that the average Ars Technica reader would agree with me. Nothing I'm saying here is particularly new (to me or anyone else) but I agree that, while piracy is a problem, the measures taken to prevent piracy are, as a consumer, even more annoying. Where is the balance drawn?

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