Thursday, July 30, 2009

Go Pirates!

We live in exciting times. Followers of this blog will know I am a fan of The Pirate Bay even though I have never used BitTorrent--what can I say, I like mavericks. I must point out the reason I don't use BitTorrent is not because of principle, but because of laziness - there are other ways to get what I want online :)

We now have the world's first democratically elected Internet pirate, and the leader of a growing international movement that seeks to deregulate copyright, abolish the patent system and decrease online surveillance.

Christian Engstrom is a 49-year old Swede and a former computer software programmer. He represents the Pirate Party (no relation to The Pirate Bay), whose membership tripled, from 14,000 to 42,000 thanks in large part to the resulting publicity from the Pirate Bay trial.

According to Engstrom, who is the party's deputy leader, their goal in Brussels is now to "ensure that Europe chooses a better road into the information society." The message is especially resonant with the younger generation. In Sweden, one in five under the age of 30 voted for The Pirate Party.

The Swedish Pirate Party has inspired officially registered sister parties in six countries including Austria, the Czech Republic, France and Spain. Germany's "Piratenpartei" is the second largest, having snared nearly one percent of the German vote during the European elections.

Cool. I wonder if we can register a sister party here in Cambodia? Talk to me Anakata!

If you have not yet listened to Stephen Fry's talk on misguided copyright laws at UK's iTunes Festival, you must. It's an entertaining and eloquent attack, and I highly recommend it. You can find the iTunes link on Reddit (super sound quality) or can watch excerpts on Youtube (poor sound quality but with motion).

Fry said while downloading on an "industrial scale" is not defensible, making examples of ordinary people is the stupidest thing the record industry can do. Not only does this alienate its audience, it's stupid to put the average downloader in the same moral category as a person who steals and old lady's handbag (in the UK, copyright ads used to draw this comparison - this has been dropped in favour of more pandering ads - "Thank you for buying original - your purchase helps fund the movie industry").

Fry admitted he used BitTorrent to watch Hugh Laurie in the season finale of House when he did not have the bandwidth to watch the episode as he was in filming in Indonesia. Laurie is Fry's former comedy partner in Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster) .

He noted many people (like students) who download music and movies through P2P networks do so because they love music and may be too poor to buy. They also like to sample music, to try out different things. But if they really like the product, they will buy when and if they are able to. A good example is Michael Jackson's music. After his death, many many people bought the "real thing" because they think it is worth paying for.

I totally agree. Very early on when I set up Bloom, I wrote as part of The Bloom Manifesto: "We believe intellectual property is only for those who can afford it."

I am interested in copyright, piracy and how it affects innovation because it affects me personally. As readers know, Bloom bags get copied all the time. But I have to let you know, rather than stifle innovation or make us give up, the copying simply forces us to be more creative, not just with designs, but also with marketing, how we position ourselves and get our message across. And that is a good thing, no?

Overall, I have to say I am not bothered much by the copying - ultimately it gives people choice, and that too is a good thing, no?

This is why I laugh when I read Hollywood lamenting how piracy affects their business. "Employment is affected, people who are actually making movies are affected, and in the long term the consumer will suffer because we won't have the high-quality content in the future that we have come to expect," said a spokeswoman representing UK's campaign group Respect for Film.

Yeah right. This is why Hollywood had its best year in 2008, taking in USD 9.78 billion. 2007 was also a record year for profits, growing 5.4 percent over 2006 by grossing $9.63 billion.

As MP Engstrom told CNN: "That's the way life is when you're running a business. Things change, technology changes and the business environment changes. Successful businesses adapt rather than whine."

Yeah Hollywood and record labels, the sooner you get used to disruptive technology the better, cos you can bet there will be more to come.


feddabonn said...

thanks for posting this diana- i didn't know! this is definitely good news.

i also agree with your position on bloom designs. i have similar principles with my work, though lol, no one has bothered making copies yet! more power to bloom!

Anonymous said...

i like your blog... i agree with most everything your write. and i appreciate the work you're doing there in cambodia. but i think you may need to expand your viewpoint a bit so as not to take a side blindly on this topic without knowing the details.

first of all, it's a little hypocritical to stand up for torrent and free downloads when you've never even used torrent isn't it? (kind of like having a strong opinion on something you don't really have a meaningful relationship with yes?).

but i digress. let me throw something back out at you to think about. you may think others stealing bloom bag idea stimulates your creative juices / forces you to be better but i'm of the mind that this is irrelvant to the topic at hand. if i created a useful software program that someone could steal and sell as their own is that better for my creative juices or is it just outright theft of my hard work and idea?

if you think your bag is better and is going to get better by someone pawning if off as their own, i'd beg to differ. most bags are basically bags as are most clothes clothes. i imagine you see most people in cambodia using plastic bags or paper bags not bloom bags. Why? b/c it serves the same exact purpose your bag does at the right price. Basically, a bag is a bag.

it's fleeting fickle consumers and how the same product is marketed to them that makes them think they're buying the same stale product as something new. candidly put, it's mostly illusion. so it's whoever has the marketing clout and the dollars that is going to own the channel and win the battle. let's hope this truth doesn't eventually come at your and your struggling workers' expense!

but to hit the point home, let me give you another more pertinent example. how would you like it if someone just walked into your store, picked up a bloom bag, proclaimed 'i just want to try it out', walked out of the store with it, never paid you for it and never gave it back? In more basic terms, what if you just gave your bags away for free with nothing in return?

that's what the issue is all about. i think people forget that 'content' is a product just like a bag that you employ people to make. you wouldn't be doing what you're doing if you couldn't get paid for it and then pass that on to the good souls you're trying to help out.

Anonymous said...

contd.. it may take a person 1 year to write a song. a month to record it at $150 / hour in a studio. there's skill involved. there's talent involved. if everyone could be a gifted musician, movie maker or storyteller they would but they're not. there's lots of time and effort involved. and for passionate artists even blood and sweat.

regardless of what the pirate people want you to believe, the majority of folks who download free music, steal it, rip it or otherwise, don't eventually pay for it. it's wishful thinking at best. As a result, free download is a real problem for *real* artists that are striving to make a modest living as creative beings. they're the ones that get screwed.

When one looks at the free downloads in terms of "we the poor student / people" versus "we the big money grubbing talentless mass producing record / movie labels" pov, it really waters down the issue.

who in their right mind would be on the side of the record / movie labels that continuously dump formulated junk out and at the same time make money like bandits and only pass a small percentage on to the actual artists? If I look at it simplisticly like that I’d lean towards supporting free download too! but keep in mind, even in cases like this, legitimate artists are the ones that wind up getting screwed.

When one takes into account that there are lots of independent artists out there trying to make a living at their craft, the free downloads argument breaks down imho. in order to level the playing field, independent artists are trying to cut out the fat cats in the middle and go it on their own. It’s tough being an artist under these circumstances. they deserve to get paid for their efforts. they have to eat, pay rent and afford health insurance like the rest of us.

as a side argument, for all the people that complain about how bad the mass produced stuff is, they sure do buy a lot of it and spend their time listening to it. so those free downloads must not be that bad after all. why not pony up to the table and pay for them?

i hope the analogy to strangers taking your bags for free makes it clear that when people download free music, that's essentially what they're doing... stealing it just as you would call it if someone came into your store and never paid for a bag.

theft is theft. lets call it what is and at least own up to it. let's not apply different standards to different situations to make oneself feel better about or try to legitimize one’s actions for what they are - robbery?

Final note: poor students? please. every poor college kid i know appears to have enough money to pay for an ipod, a laptop, beer and college itself. a good portion of those same poor college kids just happen to be wealthy brats. If you can afford the device, you can afford to pay for the content you listen to or watch on it. Without content your device is useless.

Diana Saw said...

Hi anon just replied to a couple of your points here:

and will go into the discussion further when I've more time.

feddabonn said...

[off topic]

would it be alright to put your blog on me list?

Diana Saw said...

Hi feddabonn, yes sure. I'll do the same. Cheers diana


Blog Widget by LinkWithin