The piracy is evil camp’s been producing study after study the last couple months in an attempt to reinforce the idea that the world’s just chock full of evil no-good baddies with laptops and external hard drives out to find an out of the way network from which to download all manner of free and supposedly illegal content. However via Techdirt, we learn not so much. The majority of people who do their illegal downloading would much rather have a legal alternative.
All week people have been submitting variations on the news that a study commissioned by NBC Universal, and promoted by the MPAA, shows that 24% of web traffic involves “piracy.” If you look through the actual methodology, done by research firm Envisional, there are all sorts of problems with it, including the fact that they seem to bootstrap these findings based on research done by others. Another problem is that the source Envisional used, the PublicBT tracker, does not include many of the legal BitTorrent uses, meaning that they may have significantly undercounted legal usage.
Of course, the MPAA is using this data to suggest that piracy is a big problem, and governments need to step in and help (of course). Yet… if you actually look at the data, as Rob Pegoraro at the Washington Post did, you get a very different picture. It really suggests that all that movie piracy is the industry’s own damn fault for not making legitimate content available online. This is not news of course. One of the main reasons why people access unauthorized copies is because they can’t get legitimate copies. The movie industry is so infatuated with “windows” that it doesn’t seem to realize that restricting how people can access their movies only drives more and more people to unauthorized means.
Movies, TV shows, music, computer games–it all boils down to the same thing. People want to access these medias in their own way, on their own time. They don’t want to wait 6 months for it to be available in their country if it’s available in the US. They don’t want to wait to download it online if it’s available on CD now. Or, they want the option of downloading it, even if it’s available on a CD. It’s largely why I have absolutely no problem justifying my own piracy. We want to be able to access this TV show, this movie, this album, this computer game in a particular way. We may not want to wait 15-30 days for a company to ship the CD to us. We may not want to wait 6 months for this album to be available in Canada when it’s already available in the US. So we don’t. It’s available, we want it, we go get it. And that pisses the movie/music/TV/gaming industry off. Funnily enough, I don’t particularly lose a whole lot of sleep at night over it. Guess now we know why.