Articles Tagged: Piracy

Podcast: Assessing the Impact of Piracy and Free Content on Book Sales

It’s nearly impossible to have a meaningful discussion on the issue of media piracy. Strong opinions and anecdotal evidence dominate every conversation. There is seldom any hard data to back up the various claims of damage or lack thereof.

The recent New York Times piece on book piracy is typical of the kind of coverage we’ve come to expect from major news source. The story is long on speculation and short on deep thinking or meaningful data.

Meanwhile, O’Reilly Media has just published a new research report on the Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales. Written and researched by Brian O’Leary, the report is an all too rare attempt to quantify the impact that various types of freely available content have on sales.

Free content has long been used to promote all forms of media. Is it possible that pirated content might serve a similar role in promoting the purchase of content? O’Leary’s early results seem to indicate that might be the case.

In this podcast I talk with O’Leary about his research. A full transcript of our talk will be available in the next couple of days. (more…)

Is Playing Music on the Radio A Form of Piracy?

Does playing someone’s music on the radio hurt them or help them? And is it a “form of piracy”?

I’m a lifelong radio listener. Not like I once was, of course, but I still listen, especially during my morning commute. A couple of weeks ago I happened to hear “The Step and The Walk” by The Duke Spirit on Indie 103.1, and fell instantly in love with it. So, is that a good thing or bad thing for The Duke Spirit?

A logical person would say that it’s a good thing for the artist. Right? I’d never heard of them, and now I have.

Of course, as we’ve seen many times before, the Recording Industry is not made up of logical persons. As a matter of fact, not only do they see no benefit in their artists being played on the radio, they want compensation.

Otherwise, “it’s a form of piracy,” and any argument that playing music is a form of promotion is a “red herring.”

Those aren’t my words, but rather the words of a spokesperson for a recording industry umbrella group with the hilarious name of musicFIRST.


NBC’s Plan to Make The Zune Even Worse

The NBC programming that went missing from iTunes last December has finally turned up in the Zune marketplace. Fans of The Office, Heroes, and 30 Rock can once again pay to download episodes of their favorite programs — provided they own a Zune and a Windows PC.

Given the Zune’s miniscule market share it’s curious to see any network choosing Microsoft’s media platform over iTunes for paid downloads. When NBC pulled its programming from iTunes, network officials sniffed at the relatively small sales the Apple service had generated. By comparison, sales in the Zune marketplace are bound to redefine the term “nano”.

Clearly this move isn’t about selling digital content online. NBC seems to be more interested in punishing Apple for exercising control over iTunes pricing than it is in actually expanding the market for legal downloads.


Will An Irrational Fear of Piracy Destroy the Publishing Industry Too?

Diamond Rio When they write the history of how the recording industry botched its transition to digital content distribution, they’ll probably devote a whole chapter to the Diamond Rio.

Ugly as it was, the Rio was the first widely available portable MP3 player. While the appearance of the device indicated a clear demand from consumers for portable digital music, the recording industry saw it as a threat. Instead of embracing digital music and working to develop a viable business model for digital content distribution, the RIAA took the manufacturer of the Rio to court and tried to have the product taken off the market. The RIAA was at war with the MP3 format, and claimed that any device capable of playing MP3 files would clearly contribute to piracy.

The RIAA ultimately lost its lawsuit, and the rest is history. While the Rio may seem like a footnote now, it was an important milestone. The court ruling on the Rio case cleared the way for Apple’s iPod, and eventually the iTunes music store.


Debunking the Great DVD Sniffing Dog Hoax

Flo and Lucky — Piracy Fighting Dogs??? The canine crime fighting duo Flo and Lucky were in the news again this week. The dogs, allegedly trained to sniff out counterfeit DVDs, have just completed an assignment in Malaysia where they are said to have helped uncover over $6 million in bootlegged discs. The pair was so successful that counterfeiters put a bounty on their heads, and the government awarded them medals for “Oustanding Service”.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Flo and Lucky’s story is that media outlets have been quick to regurgitate the MPAA’s claims without actually questioning the dogs’ abilities or the program they’re participating in. Take a closer look at the facts and the two start to look more like publicity hounds than police dogs.

As I noted last year when the dogs made their first appearance in the UK, the pair obviously aren’t trained to smell intellectual property violations. An official press release explained that the dogs “were amazingly successful at identifying packages containing DVDs, which were opened and checked by HM Customs’ representatives.” The press release went on to state, “While all were legitimate shipments on the day, our message to anyone thinking about shipping counterfeit DVDs through the FedEx network is simple: you’re going to get caught.”

The message to people shipping legitimate DVDs is also clear. You can expect that your package may be opened and searched for no good reason.