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LONG BLOG

Legislation is the wrong way to deal with piracy.

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Before I begin I'd like to say that I'm not an economist, so I might not know much of what I'm saying. Even so, everyone seems to have their 2 cents on piracy, so here are mine.


SOPA, PIPA, ACTA etc are threats to the internet. Part of the reason the backlash from the online community is that while copyright holders claim that the bill protects them, they are in fact already protected adequately and the bills give them a disproportionate amount of control over the content of the internet.

But there are, and always will be too many pirates and content thieves for them to keep up with. But let's not judge the pirates. We can sit here and play the blame game but in the end when markets collapse, share prices drop and people lose jobs pointing fingers won't do anyone any good. People need to realise the true problem.

See, piracy is simply a market force. It's a symptom, and not an illness. And the disease is pricing.

Piracy, or at least large scale piracy exists because there is a difference between what the publisher sees as the value of their product, and what the consumer see as it's value. Clearly the pirate is interested in the product, and would probably consider buying it but the prices are too damn high.

Look at it this way. Piracy is a calculated risk. The pirate's mind makes it into an equation: Perceived value of product + risk of prosecution < publisher's perceived value of product. Now legislating to increase the odds of prosecution does seem to balance out both sides. However, that will only lessen piracy. What it won't do is increase the value of the product. So it won't make people more likely to spend money, only less likely to pirate, which, obviously won't increase industry profits.

The solution is simple = increase the value of your product to the consumer. You can't legislate your product into becoming more valued. Make them see that your game is worth more, that they get more for buying from you than they do from pirating. Provide them with a better service than illegal sites. Jim Sterling goes over this point very well in his recent Jimquisition.

But also lower prices. And I don't mean let retailers drop prices after a few months. I mean actually lower them right out of the gate. Now I can't find any official statistics but isn't the biggest pirating group teenage boys and young men? Let's be honest, as a demographic they don't have a lot of money, many are in school or college and can't afford to pay 40 per game more than a few times a year. Yet that demographic is repeatedly punished for lending to a friend, buying second hand.

But it's very easy for me to say 'lower game prices'. That's a strategy that serves me best, not the publishers. Well here's the thing: I'm the consumer. The publisher is supposed to serve me. Yeah, the publisher provides me with entertainment, but I provide them with money. I put them in a job and food on their table. They're not my friend, they aren't even on my side and would, as recent turns would show, take every penny from me if they could. They are simply a necessary evil which I endure to get to the work of the developers, who are more than anything far closer to being friends of the gamer.
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About CJHRRIHRHone of us since 7:00 AM on 07.31.2011