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So if something is free but there is a better version of it for a cost which do you prefer? I ask this question simply why pondering online piracy trying to figure out why it's popular and what commercial media can do to combat it.
Commercial media spends so much of their time and money attempting to combat online piracy and to what result? They end up with news stories of how they sued a 12 year old kid for downloading a few Justin Beiber songs? They put a few server operators in jail? Obviously these atttempts aren't going to stop very many people from continuing to do what they do online.
The solution is obvious to me. If you're a commercial capitalist company you should believe in the system, and the basis of capitalism is offering something better than your competition. Sure your competition is breaking the law, but you can't always control that. If companies offered a better pricing schedule and better content delivery people would flock to them for their purchases. Already iTunes, Amazon, Steam, and others have probably taken a much larger chunk of the potential pirates than all of the different anti-piracy organizations together.
The features companies offer can easily make them more attractive than a free competitor. Just think of it this way: If you saw two shops one of them offering you raw hamburger meat and a unsliced bun and another shop SELLING you raw hamburger meat and a unsliced bun which do you choose? Obviously the free one. Now lets consider if the shop selling it cooked the meat for you, placed it on your sliced bun, added extras to it like toppings, and offered you superiror customer service. Now there'd still be a few people who'd go with what's free and cook it themselves but a lot of people who go with the PAID one, with one caveat: That the price was reasonable.
Reasonable pricing is paramont to combating piracy. Ensuring that you're offering people a product they can enjoy and you're offering them features they can't get from other sources will ensure they will purchase your product instead of going with the inferior free version of it.
I realize this blog is sorta late to the game on the subject as I realize many companies are already doing this. Amazon, iTunes, Steam, and many others have already made great strides on many their digital distribution system unique and desiriable to the consumer. I just hope the publishers, music studios, movie studios, game companies, and others will realize how important it is to focus on that and they'd probably do more good diverting the millions they spend on anti-piracy litigation and instead funnel it into partnering with these type of companies and offering lower prices to them. You want to eliminate your competition just offer stuff they can't.
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