Piracy at Large Helping Artists

The founders of the Pirate bay were sentenced to one year in prison today for their role in aiding piracy. Many pro business and pro artist groups alike cheered the decision. They said it set a wonderful precedent and shows that the world is serious about piracy. This event really made me reflect on this issue in a personal, political and economical fashion. I would like to share my thoughts on why piracy can be good.


I think piracy is a negative act toward the people who have created the content.  I think it shows that an individual does not have much respect for the product or it's creators.  I also feel like piracy has more harmful effects on the little guy than it does for the RIAA or the MPAA, because the little guy has much tighter margins.  For some small artists losing the revenue on 100 cds could be the difference between eating and not eating, etc and so forth.  In reality though because of the nature of piracy the small guys rarely get pirated.  I think the type of people that do pirate frequently are sympathetic to the plight of the little man and therefore try to avoid pirating from them. I also think piracy helps the large artists.  Artists get very little money from the album sales themselves and get far more from concert appearances.  So, more availability of music equals more concert goers equals more money in the pocket of artists, and less in the hands of producers, executives, and so forth.  Whether that's good or bad I will let you decide.


When you look at piracy from an economic stand point it really starts to make sense.  Piracy arose from a need, the need was for people to get free stuff.  Most people want some thing for free because they can't afford it or don't find it valuable enough to pay for.  The vast majority of people that are pirating, are people that would not other wise purchase the stuff they are pirating.  This is a fact.  There is a number of people that pirate everything they can just because they can, and these people are jerks.  The rest of the pirates are usually poor people that could not other wise afford the content.  Assuming you believe everything I said lets take a fun walk down economics lane.

Group A can and does buy music online legitamely .  Group B can buy music online, but pirates the music anyway.  Group C cannot buy music at all, and therefore pirates the music.  So, the amount of money lost is only from group B. Because group B is small the actual amount of money lost is small.

Now because group C is often comprised of young people and people with extra time on their hands a couple of things are possible.  The first is that group C will learn about new artists and listen to their music and enjoy it.  Then members of group C will grow up , get a job, and become part of Group A.  The piracy group C commited before becoming group A, will have helped them build up a large interest in many bands and genres. That will cause them to buy lots of music when they become group A.  Another possibility, google Jonathan Coulton if you need proof of this one,  members of group C will find an artist they enjoy prolifically, pirate their content, and then save up and go to that artists concert.  Artists make all their money at  live shows, so they would win on this deal.  Group C has many more options, but group C rarely causes money to be lost, because they had no money to offer in the first place.


If you allow politicians to legislate new laws about piracy,  stopping piracy, or preventing piracy they will definitely screw it up.  The majority of politicians in the United States do not understand technology, and it is starting to look like most of them do not understand freedom.  I guarantee that any laws past to help fight piracy are or will infringe on the rights afforded to every American. It seems like common sense to not right laws for things you don't understand, but that has never stopped our politicians and isn't now.  There have also been numerous instances were hungry prosecutors enforce the laws in ways they were never meant to be used.  In short until politicians under go some form of training or at the very least consult experts they are unqualified to pass or vote for legislation that has anything to do with piracy.

I am not for piracy, but I really feel like it has it's place.  It can be beneficial to artists and the recording industry as whole.  It allows poor and un-interested people to keep up with artists and also to invigorate themselves with things they enjoy.  I really feel like it's an alternative model of payment, sort of like the food bank for music.  Piracy fills in a serious gap that cannot be filled in any other way.  No matter how you shake a stick at it there will always be people who cannot pay for content.  It only benefits artists and even record companies to allow them to have the content with out paying for it.  But if you gave all content away for free you wouldn't make any money so piracy is really just a way to offered tiered pricing.  You give a dis-incentive to individuals who pirate by making it crime, that way only those that have no other choice will use it.  It's also much easier and quicker to just pay for content.

I know I can't possibly cover every point in one blog post and I also know that not everyone will agree.  So , I look forward to your comments.

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