There’s an interesting article on SOPA, and a protest Wikipedia, Reddit, BoingBoing and others will engage in tomorrow about it. While I’m all in favor of, and in fact have a vested interest in protecting intellectual copyrights, SOPA wants to empower Hollywood to control the internet, not just get rid of piracy.
One of the commenters makes an interesting point:
The main problem here is that these industries do not want to adapt even when the general public does not value their product. People are telling them that their movies are not worth what they are charging for it and they are saying that they only want that one hit song on the CD because the music studio figured they could just fool people by including 10 other tracks of junk. Most people who download wouldn’t pay for it anyway and if these industries are loosing money, how do they explain paying record amounts of money to their so called stars? People are just fed up.
Now, of course, one argument presented against this is that you can just buy one track of music at a time, and that’s true. But I think this person’s larger point is dead on: movies, TV and music cost more than the market will bear, but instead of bringing down prices and, you know, competing like a business should do, the industry is focused on piracy as their sole competitor instead of… well, audience disinterest.
I don’t steal content. I don’t download stuff I haven’t paid for. But a few years ago, I learned a dirty little secret: even after paying for international shipping, most DVDs are cheaper through Amazon UK. Even US titles are usually cheaper in Region 2 than Region 1 (region free DVD players are very affordable). Why? I’m not sure. My first assumption was that Americans are just stupid and will pay that much for crap entertainment, and maybe the British just won’t pay that much, but will pay something.
So maybe it’s not that Americans are stupid. Maybe we’re not paying Region 1 prices, or buying movie tickets like we used to, or any of that… and the industry refuses to consider any alternative but that we’re getting our entertainment for free, illegally. The obvious alternative – the one that would occur to some dude who opens up a hardware store and wonders why everyone shops at Home Depot instead – is that they’ve simply priced movies, TV DVDs and music above what people are willing to pay. So who’s stupid? Or rather, who’s just being a stubborn asshole who refuses to think or admit the truth? The entertainment industry.
They seem unaware that “free downloads” aren’t their only competition. We don’t need movies, TV and music. It’s not like food. You can’t assume that if we’re not buying groceries from one store, we must be getting them from elsewhere. I haven’t been to a movie theater since 2003, because of the cost, the policy of theaters in Los Angeles to allow cell phone users to disrupt climactic scenes of blockbusters on opening days and Hollywood’s sheer inability to make anything I want to see immediately rather than when the DVD comes out (if then – usually not then).
The entertainment industry needs to realize that it’s just not making us want to pay anything like what it wants to charge. Either the product needs to get a lot better, or the prices need to come down.