Posted by: dolan | February 2, 2007

Piracy

After watching the obligatory FBI piracy warning, followed by the ubiquitous “You wouldn’t steal a car…” ad at the beginning of every DVD, I started thinking about reasons why piracy may be so rampant these days. The obvious reason, especially when talking about digital music, is how easy it is. Despite all the DRM schemes, it’s still quite easy for any halfway intelligent person to get virtually any music they want. For that matter, virtually any media they want. As if you had to guess, it ends with “…orrent”, and that’s just one avenue.

But the larger question is why. Why do so many folks feel OK with doing this? Why do the anti-piracy ads ring so hollow? I think a lot it has to do with the image that Big Media has created for itself. Growing up in L.A., I remember driving down Sunset blvd. and seeing large black limos reserved for stars or recording industry execs or producers. The industry wanted to project the image of conspicuous wealth and it did (and does) a good job with that image. Just look at the Academy Awards: if ever there was a show of glamour and overconsumption, there it is. However, the recent ads talk about how grips and gaffers and editors and musicians are getting hosed by piracy. This, unfortunately, is largely true.

The big problem with the equation is that long before they were getting screwed by piracy, they were getting the shaft from the industry execs themselves. The RIAA is proof of that: just dive a little deeper into how much an artist makes as opposed to a record company and you’ll see its a form of modern indentured servitude. The greed of these companies is undeniable — witness the recent and upcoming attempts to sell you the same stuff over and over again in different formats (TV, iPod, etc).

So, whereas the message might be valid, it’s coming from a completely hypocritical source. The general public recognizes this and chooses to justify its actions in Robin Hood fashion, except it’s all take and no give. Hopefully technology will rectify this to some degree by cutting out the middlemen and allowing artists to engage with the public directly. MySpace, beast that it is, is already allowing this transformation to happen. It can’t happen soon enough: I’m sick of those stupid ass anti-piracy commercials.

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