Especially with database-driven apps and SaaS products, distribution (hosting) is still most of what you're paying for. If someone leaked the back end source code for Github or Dropbox, of course there would be people who would host them for themselves and avoid paying, but I can't imagine it would cut into their revenues at all.
But with music, as soon as it's released in a digital format, anyone with an internet connection has near-frictionless access—the music creators are no longer offering any value from distribution other than the convenience of online stores like iTunes or the artwork and collectibility of a physical CD. The music industry and smaller musical groups/labels are certainly figuring this out, and experimenting with ways of offering something of value. Removing DRM was a big win because DRM did nothing except ruin the supposed convenience of online purchases. Cloud and subscription services (both pay and ad-supported) offer convenience and even better immediate availability than piracy.
These days, that compromise is, in some ways, probably tilted too far towards producers (or some categories of producers at least), but with no intellectual property at all, that would tilt things too far the other way.
I think we'll see amateur music and free/open software quickly fill the gap left by professional musicians. And people will keep finding ways of financing their love (playing music). In fact, I don't know many of my favorite musicians today who make a living from their music. They all work day jobs. Music is their passion. If anything, they lose money from releasing albums.
I think this new cultural line of thought of "in this day and age with the tools we have why would you need a full day job support for ..." (replace ... with making music, running a blog, developing games, etc) is pure arrogant bullshit. Yes, you can have hobbies, and side projects, and some might excel at doing them for a while. But doing your craft as an actual full time job is the only way to reach, and maintain, your full potential.
I just don't see a realistic turn of events where suddenly everyone is paying for CDs again. I also don't think creativity will stop because the money does.
Also, I think you are the one spouting pure arrogant bullshit when you completely dismiss amateur production. Just because you can't squeeze in hours of practice time outside your work schedule doesn't mean other people aren't doing it, right now. In fact there are tons of hugely talented musicians out there who aren't making a living off their music.
edit: Oh, I think I misread your intent with the "pure arrogant bullshit" thing, sorry for turning harsh. We don't really disagree, I completely agree that having to work a day job to support a music "career" is crap. On the other hand, I don't really see how it's ever been much different, except for a few lucky people who made it huge the golden eras of vinyl and CDs.
I don't care so much if you in specific endorse it. i do care about how it's a line of thought that we hear more and more often.
Also, I think you are the one spouting pure arrogant bullshit when you completely dismiss amateur production.
I dismissed amateur production? are you sure you hit reply in the right comment?
In fact there are tons of hugely talented musicians out there who aren't making a living off their music.
no kidding! you just blew my mind. now think of what they could do if they made/played their music as a full time job.
Lots of people pay for Spotify. CDs are dead, but because of the medium, not the concept of paying for something.
What a nightmare. You mean I have to do this job I hate for the rest of my life because I should want to do the thing I actually like for free? Is there really no value in it at all?
People who make products we want badly enough to need one of our own should be compensated for their efforts. They should not have to go out and play it in clubs, or sell you a t-shirt. If you want a copy of their song, you should compensate them. There are always going to be 90% of artists whose art is not popular enough to earn them a living. The problem we're discussing is that of the people whose music is very popular, but is being taken illegally without their permission.
Face it, we're not born with a burning desire to buy Metallica albums. You grow up listening to radio or watching tv, getting exposed to certain types of music (typically between 2 and 6 minutes, most on 4/4, with accompanying lyrics sung by one or two artists) and that's the music you'll end up wanting "that bad" -- pure coincidence?
Artists who succeed following traditional models (who, incidentally, are the most supportive of draconian copyright laws) are the ones who marketed themselves more heavily and got more access to traditional media: they went on TV, did interviews and concerts, paid for airplay... -- without any of that, they wouldn't be "popular". To do this, they had to borrow a lot of money from their label, and often will see very little financial reward.
So why they should not have to go out and sell you a t-shirt, instead of borrowing from a label to buy (increasingly more irrelevant) airplay? What's the big deal ?
The argument is essentially that piracy is okay because 90% of artists are never going to earn their living from music. 90% of artists do not create a product that appeals to enough people for them to earn a living selling that product. 10% create something popular enough that they might be able to earn a living at it.
How those products came to be popular socially is completely irrelevant. You're saying, let's not compensate them for being great musicians who created a recording I want a copy of. Let's instead require them to be in the business of selling clothes because I respect the value of a t-shirt more than the art they created that made me give a shit about a shirt with their name on it.
So I'd rather compensate them for being great t-shirt sellers, it doesn't really make any difference and it will probably guarantee them more cash.
Sometimes (maybe mostly). Other times it's because the artist is actually good and people buy their stuff just by word of mouth (Metallica is actually more an example of this). I think it's easier to tell in hindsight which is which. Milli Vanilli vs. Led Zeppelin, for instance.
The traditional role of the record company wasn't to manufacture music and shove it down our throats, but to be the filter--find the good musicians and sign them up. While I agree that there is a lot of manufactured crap out there, I do think that you can't dismiss all pop music because there are actually artists out there that are good and popular.
Incidentally, I think the real revolutionary thing that napster did was stop the record companies from being the filter, at least in our minds. Being able to try out any weird music I liked was liberating and when I found some bands I liked I could look at that user's whole library and use it as a primitive recommendation engine. I was able to find way more indie stuff and it effectively gave some of the filtering controls over to me.
At the same time, I don't think you can say that we'll only get Rebecca Black in the future, you can't know that. Mozart had a lot of factors playing into his level of success (timing, the right parents, innate skill, etc). At the same time, Mozart lived before albums or musical copyright, and worked under the patronage system. It's possible we'll see a return of that as well, if the current model completely breaks down.
Also, with software we can empirically look at the history of IP law and see that a huge amount of software that is fundamental even today was created before any sort of software patents were awarded (and presumably, before those people ever even considered monetizing software through government-protected monopoly on distribution).
I think it requires a naive and backwards view of human psychology to assume that money is the sole or primary incentive to create quality music or software. In fact, I surmise that anyone capable of producing top notch content would discover a way to do so without current IP protection laws.
When will you make it? In the evening when you're off from work? What about my marriage? My kids? They all have to suffer because people think they have a right to my effort for free?
Meaning that they probably have day jobs and don't produce as much music as they could if they were able to work at it full time. This may or may not have anything to do with piracy, but I think the point of fewer digital goods being produced is one to consider.
The same digital technology that makes piracy easier is what made it possible for baddox to find them in the first place. It is hard to imagine solutions to the problem of music piracy that wouldn't also make it harder to find these musicians. After all, music piracy has become easy because music is easy to copy and distribute... which is also why it has become easier to find the niche musicians you like.
Suppose you're right (though I don't think you are) and we successfully clamp down on music piracy so that these musicians can more easily monetize their small fan bases and spend more time making music. Does baddox care about this music if, in this alternate world, he never discovers them?
And this is more true of software than anything else, and there is a good reason. The most important ingredient of software production is not 'incentivization', not money. It is other software, other information. That is because it is leveraged unlimitedly by being copyable: a single sum of money can support a single piece of development effort, but a single piece of information can support any number of development projects.
The more completely you have and enforce copyright, the more you destroy that leverage.
Hopefully in time we'll see a lot less fart apps for $5 and the umpteenth song about a weekday from people who see it as a quick way to make cash and not something they have a passion for.
If both of these industries were about passion and not money then piracy wouldn't be such an issue.
There is nothing stopping those 148,194 people from going and pirating those games, but they haven't because people will pay for a product.
Positive some of those people won't even play the games but donated just to support the idea. (I am one of those).
And yet there are many people that actually do this already, otherwise how would you be booting your linux box? I know I program in my spare time...
> Just thinking about it is depressing. The parasites will walk around happily listening to their free music in their makerbot printed mp3 player (from pirated plans)
I don't know, that sounds kind of cool--everything would be different, that's for sure. I think there will always room for really good programmers. Also, never bet against people trying to find a market somewhere--there's always one somewhere, it just might not look like the ones we have now. Don't fight the future, embrace it (or starve).
Piracy stopped them from collecting the social security check and live the wealthy life of the unemployed pirate.
It's like saying that authors can still make money through public readings when pirated ebooks are everywhere, <cue famous example here>. Or that games can just have unpiratable multiplayer. That's all true, but it kills off whole genres.
To clarify on the fairness, buying software and music almost feels like a donation already. And I have been surrounded by anecdotal evidence in my youth who happily cracked "silly" casual shareware games, which just felt awkward to pay for, then played them for months. Yet when their favorite brand's AAA game was released, they bought it, played it for three days, then proudly put the box on top of their shelf and claimed that they do buy software -- but only when it's worth it. I can easily see the same thing happening for higher-profile vs lower-profile bands.
The development community has a great solution: app stores. But these only work if the people who run the app stores are willing to help protect the products of those who sell in that store. I think this is what the post is mostly about (and has little to do with the music industry).
To pirate work on the net... Whatever.
To pirate work by placing it in the same app store that your product is sold. That is just messed up.
The analogy between music and tech suggests that the two hits-based industries selling digital goods are not so different after all. But why would our morality in one case be so different from the other case?
If anything, this allegory seems to suggest to me that the recording industry has committed one of the biggest public relations bungles of our lifetimes. People who wouldn't think to pirate a mobile app would pirate music without a second thought thanks to widespread lawsuits, pay-for-play, price fixing, and of course, ease.
It sounded to me like the message was supposed to be "it doesn't sound so awesome when you see it from the other side of the looking glass, now does it". (It felt like it was targeted at people who can identify with developing mobile apps)
"The point of the article is that making that choice for someone else is wrong."
It's my feeling that in this article at least, the author does not really care about the rights and wrong of copying, piracy, intellectual property, etc. He is scared by relatively few people on the internet being both lawmaker, judge, party and executioner when it comes to the monetization of a digital product, and the reason why he is scared is that these few people are not even potential customers.
The problem of someone taking copyrighted content and making it available for others is a small one. The big problem is the many millions of people who take advantage of it. If everyone recognized that they're not entitled to anything except their basic human rights, none of which have anything to do with access to MP3s, then others posting that content online wouldn't matter.
The hope with this article was a little empathy from a community that often leans toward not caring about copyright law as it pertains to music. While many chose to go the route of poking tiny holes in parts of the analogy, plenty didn't realize it was an allegory and talked about how messed up it was. Many of them the same people who fight music copyright tooth and nail.
It's just sad to think that everybody enjoys music, just like they enjoy software, and so many other things that can be easily taken, and yet don't care if the people who create it see enough benefit to keep making it for them. It's short sighted and will result in fewer people having the time to become experts in these crafts, which is a loss for everyone. Sure, quantity is at an all time high, but in art that hardly matters.
We need to figure out fair solutions to these time & money issues in order to void the piracy problem and make devs and artists feel better. In the mean time, well... there are concerts, donations, advertisement, register-only services, drm... crappy stuff(1) compared to the real deal if you want my opinion (that of an independent android app dev), but eh, tough times.
(1)except concerts. Live music is awesome. Horribly expensive and probably really hard to setup, but extremely enjoyable.
Precisely. Many millions of people take advantage of it, and the overall good is greater than if they didn't. If the cost of distributing some good falls down to zero, you can't make a living by distributing these. Find another way; for instance provide a web service through your app, that unregistered copies can't access.
> It's just sad to think that everybody enjoys music, just like they enjoy software, and so many other things that can be easily taken, and yet don't care if the people who create it see enough benefit to keep making it for them.
For the tremendous majority of professional musicians recorded music never represented a significant source of revenue at all, if ever. Most musicians get paid for playing, and nothing else. That people swap mp3 around have absolutely no influence on their life -- except when it helps them getting known.
People already use lack of easy access as their excuse for piracy. Now you want them to make some hard to crack app just for people to be able to listen to it? How about people just stop taking what's not theirs and treat artists with respect?
And in regard to your last statement, it's not your right to determine whether exposure alone should be the reward of their hard work.
If you swallow a cost of 10, but that 11 people gets 1 from your contribution, the society as a whole wins.
> How about people just stop taking what's not theirs and treat artists with respect?
When something that used to be hard becomes totally simple, obvious and costless, there is absolutely no sense trying to stick to the previous state of the matter. When Gutenberg invented the printing press, what used to be a complex, tough and expensive endeavour (copying books by hand) instantly became worthless. Too bad, but the net gain for the society as a whole was immense.
Similarly, the net gain we could enjoy from being able to copy, transfer, duplicate, mix, rehash, transform existing digital goods is world-changing. Some will lose at some point, but they'll have to get over it. Nowadays large parts of the copyright laws are only manacles impending progress, defending soon to be dead practices and business models.
> And in regard to your last statement, it's not your right to determine whether exposure alone should be the reward of their hard work.
Did you read me? As a musician composer and arranger, I've earned a living by teaching and live performance, but a net loss on recordings; and it was back in the 90s, when CD-R was unheard of.
The hard true fact : only artists aired on radio and TV make money on recorded music. They are a minuscule minority of musicians. Same goes for actors, painters, etc.
It sounds to me like you're saying "so long as society sees a net gain, it's ok to exploit other people"
Those wanting the crash-course could start with the very real difference between actual human rights and artificial privileges. They could continue their educations by developing some appreciation for the (very substantial differences) between tangible and intangible goods. And they could demonstrate their commitment to civil society by NOT supporting the development of law in ways that would - inevitably - lead to an astonishingly omniscient police state.
And that's not something that any artist worth the name would be okay with.
If the only way to consume a good is to obtain it illegally (and there is no loss of the orginal owner - I'm talking about digital copies) then moral offsetting is the only slightly moral way to consume/acquire the item.
It's not that I think music piracy is justified, but let's not understate the reality of merchandising and touring prices in the music industry.
When people feel they're being ripped off, they're probably going to be more likely to not feel so bad when they return the favor.
Maybe I'm used to reading "easy" articles that provide a problem and possible solution to it. I haven't read the allegory of the cave since college so I'm not used to thinking this hard... (laziness on my part I guess)
> They tell you your business model is broken. You should make money some other way. Maybe you should sell t-shirts with your company’s name on them, or put on events of some kind and charge for tickets. That’s where the real money is. Paid apps are a thing of the past, they say.
I can't help but think, Yeah, I actually do think that. Like it or not, distribution of quality media was a big part of the value provided by the music industry before the digital age and the internet. I'm not making an argument for or against the ethics of the piracy itself, but I think music producers (both big studios and "little guys") are unwise to rely on legislation and lawsuits to protect their business.
That was Marx's labor theory of value. Marx was wrong.
You deserve a return only when you efficiently meet someone else's needs. The secret to economic success is not sweat, but creative sloth.
We measure value against the cost of substitutes, and other people already entertain me for free (without piracy).
Maybe entertainment just isn't a hard problem. Maybe the bottom 99% of entertainers are basically tagging cat pictures. Maybe we shouldn't encourage them.
I guess if you're an app dev, and want to learn one thing from the music industry, I'd find a way to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy: http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/12695
Then look for ways to be creatively lazy, and make sure your app can't be replaced by going for a walk on a spring day.
This really depends on how you define loss.
In a standard legitimate sale of a product, there is a bidirectional exchange of value -- the customer submits currency whose total value is equivalent to the value requested for the product being purchased. Simultaneously, for submitting the currency of that value, the customer receives a product of that value. (We'll assume the price is totally fair and equivalent to value at this point, but even if it's not the price presumably still includes the true value of the product, if not more)
In an illegitimate transaction -- literal theft, in this case -- the criminal customer forcibly receives the product, exchanging nothing of value in return to the merchant or the producer of the product. In this case, there is no question of loss; the customer has received something with inherent value and given no value.
In the illegitimate transaction of piracy, the end result is the same as theft with the sole exception that the original product has not been "lost" in the traditional sense of the word -- however, the criminal customer has still received a product of value and exchanged nothing at all, much less the value of the product.
Now, regardless of which of these three transactions has taken place for your product, I am presuming that your product had a significant cost to develop -- unless, of course, all of your tools were free, you had no expenses at all and you regard your time as totally worthless, in which case all income from the product is profit. I submit to you, then, that if your costs in developing your product surpass the value you received for it, yet the value you received for it is, itself, surpassed by the value of the product "in the wild" -- e.g. you have sold $450 worth of software, yet there are $750 worth of copies of it total being enjoyed by people (purchased & pirated combined) (100% arbitrary numbers), and the cost to develop the product was around $1500 -- then you have certainly incurred a loss on the sole basis that you have not received enough value to cover your costs.
The standard rebuttal to this is the tried-and-true "but they would not have purchased my product anyway." Perhaps this is true -- however, I would consider this irrelevant. Under normal, legitimate economic circumstances, the purchase of a product is the only way to attain it; therefore, if they would not have purchased the product anyway, they wouldn't have the product. In this case, they have not purchased the product, but they do have it and enjoy its use, and you have received no value in return for it despite having put value into it.
However, assuming the value received for the product exceeds the costs of producing it, but the value of the product "in the wild" as mentioned above still exceeds the value received... perhaps "loss" is less correct in this instance, but you are still lacking the total value that under normal circumstances you should have received. What would you call that?
In any case, I am not sure how it is fallacious to call a product of value obtained illegitimately (one way or another) for free a loss to the product's producer.
..and a user has never been entitled to the full enjoyment of a business's product. But it doesn't seem to stop articles like this from being written or large amounts of users to just steal it anyway.
I could hardly love this whole comment, but particularly that, any more. Rock on.
Ultimately, piracy breaks down to "people want your stuff, but you've priced it too highly". In the case of apps, that's all it is. In the case of music, it's a little different. Music is cheap, but it's rare that you can get it in a good format: everything is lossy, and for people with good audio kit and good hearing, that makes the music unusable. Therefore, people that both Want It Now and want full quality are going to download the FLAC torrent rather than buy lossy MP3s. (They won't buy the CD because it takes too long for the mailman to deliver it.)
The same goes for movies and TV. Nobody will sell you those things without DRM, so if you use Linux exclusively, you have no option but to pirate the content. Make every TV show a standard non-DRM'd HTTP download for a buck, and piracy (among people with money) evaporates instantly. But the content producers want a bogeyman to blame for all their problems, so they intentionally keep piracy alive.
(If there were no such thing as the ability to pirate movies, people still wouldn't have bought the 88th redo of Star Wars. We liked it the first time. But it's easier for Lucas to blame the evil greedy pirates than his evil greedy self.)
The problem isn't price -- it's the barrier of payment.
Figure out a way to make the transaction as seamless & low-risk as "tossing a quarter into the can" and you've gone a long way to solving the piracy problem.
How you do this, I have no idea. I would look at iTunes & Steam as examples of services that have been successful at smoothing the friction & establishing trust. People spook easily when asked for CC info…
Ultimately I would say piracy usually breaks down to people wanting things for free. If we stop looking in our inside circles (Enthusiasts, developers, etc—the 'enlightened') and then look outside at the mythical average man, or, the masses.
Recently someone in my Facebook feed made a comment about loving BitTorrent (Hey, at least he and others are moving on from Limewire) because he could get movies for free. This comment had a few 'lol awsome' words in it. Also, think of how people latch onto "GET RICH QUICK" schemes, late-night ads promising amazing abs at minimal work, etc.
Hell, consider myself too. Back in high school I would pirate a lot of games and finish them. Why? Because I wanted them and didn't always have the money. Note: Throughout my life I've also purchased a ton of games starting back with Hocus Pocus, Raptor and Warcraft. ;) I've long since stopped and now if I want to play a videogame I will either buy it or go without. Take Portal 2 for example, I've been more carefully budgeting my money and am yet to buy it. I haven't died, yet!
Also, do people have a right to content/things created and sold by others?
Nope! But they steal it anyway. ("Bean counters said I couldn't fire a man just for being in a wheelchair. Did it anyway! Ramps are expensive!")
Ultimately, I'd gladly pay for Netflix. But it doesn't work on any of my computers, so I just get better-quality stuff from Illegal Places instead. Honey badger don't care, and neither do I.
It does, but when you rely on a subset of the market that will never pay for your stuff anyway, the value is more than just a little skewed.
"Honey badger don't care, and neither do I."
Good. I don't like paying taxes because they are just too expensive..so I don't.
It's funny because when businesses do the same thing with workers (the american programmer is too expensive, so we just decided to hire from India), people get all upset.
No, it means you have no market. Find a new one.
>Good. I don't like paying taxes because they are just too expensive..so I don't.
You - as a supplier - are not the government, and you don't have any inherent right to be in the particular business you are in.
>It's funny because when businesses do the same thing with workers (the american programmer is too expensive, so we just decided to hire from India), people get all upset.
Some people do, yes. Usually it is the same group that fail to understand the idea that the consumer - not the supplier - that defines the worth of a product. The American programmer is too expensive - in some definitions. That is why first world programmers add a hell of a lot of value over spec following developing world labour these days.
This is basic economics.
So yes, please outsource your programming some more.
My point being, no one can tell an author how much to sell his content for. They can quote market average, scream and do whatever but they cannot make that developer sell it for a price they choose which comes back to "people want your stuff, but you've priced it too highly" and the idea that people have a right to content/software which therefore backs the bizarre act of stealing/illegally acquiring. People might feel like it's priced too high but that doesn't make it a 'fact' that it is.
I'd gladly pay for Netflix too but it's not available in my country. So, I'll go without or I'll rent movies from a video store for $1 on Tuesday. Netflix not being in my country doesn't give me a right to pirate content.
(I mostly buy CDs these days because of the lossless issue. But if I'd have to import the disc from another country, I just torrent it, because fuck paying $30 for a CD.
And yes, I know that 44kHz is not "lossless". So that's fine, let me buy 24-bit 192kHz files instead!)
I'd say it's rather:
> Ultimately, piracy breaks down to "people want your stuff, but you've priced it".
Yeah. Turns out that charging $20 for a CD is not a winning business model.
You see, back in the '00s, it used to be common knowledge that "nobody pays for third-party smartphone apps". It was scientifically proved over and over again, on platforms like Symbian and Palm, by research after research. You see, back then getting hold of a mobile app was relatively hard; you had to go hunting for it online, find it in some sort of online directory, pay tens or hundreds to the directory (which was also trying to sell you some other crap like proprietary downloaders etc or spamming you or generally treating you -- and developers! --- like shit). The market was tiny and tech-savvy, and resented having to pay so much for small add-ons, often of dubious quality.
Then came the Apple AppStore, and lo, all of a sudden people were paying for apps! Why? Because the ease of purchase and lower prices dramatically enlarged the market to people who simply couldn't be bothered to jailbreak and pirate just to save a few quid, or wanted to support authors. The pirate market didn't disappear, but mobile developers flourished nonetheless.
Now replace apps for music, and good streaming services for the AppStore, and I think you can see where things are going: consumers wants a simple and immediate buying experience where they don't feel like they're being ripped off by third parties (even though he still is, by Apple) and with low prices. Give them that, and they're quite happy to pay; try to force them into digital slavery, and they'll resort to the black market.
Now, guess what the music industry tried to do for the last 15 years.
It is really very simple. If someone feels the price an artists asks for their songs is too much, or feels that obtaining a copy legally is too much "work", then they don't need to have a copy. They're not entitled to it for any reason whatsoever.
If that's not digital slavery...
(besides, you cannot "steal" digital content, it's just a bunch of bits; I flip mine to look like yours, and I have a copy. Which is why SaaS is so popular, of course: what is sold is now the actual service, rather than a bunch of bits.)
The scarcity of good music is real, and it’s not found in its distribution model. You’re neglecting to acknowledge the complexity of the process that goes into the creation of that product in the first place. Sure, you can duplicate an MP3 with next to no cost. But duplicating a digital file that nobody enjoys is not the point. We’re talking about duplicating something that hundreds of thousands or millions of people want.
To even have that file to duplicate, we have to go back to the 5 year old kid who first picked up the guitar. Let’s account for the thousands of hours they practiced their craft until they were good enough to even begin to be capable of making something people will enjoy. The number of people who will enjoy a recording of just one guitar playing is very few, so they work with group after group of other musicians, failing to create a product that a lot of people like.
One day, at around 25 years old, this person stumbles into a room with 3 other people who have spent thousands of hours practicing their own instruments, and, for the first time ever, they start creating music that will have mass appeal. They spend months writing music together. Sometimes those people don’t get along, but they fight through it because the product they’re making is that difficult to create with other people. After months writing, and more months practicing, they finally have the blueprints for a product that people will enjoy and want their own copy of. But it’s just in their heads.
Now, these people either invest their own money, or they go through painstaking lengths to attract an investor by way of a record label. That record label, in exchange for an investment in them and for lending them connections and years of expertise, takes a significant percentage of the returns from their sales. Or, they go it alone, keeping the lion’s share of their sales, but having to invest all of their own money and their own time managing the business side of what they bring to market.
After weeks or months in the studio, working with a producer, several professionally trained production engineers, a mixing engineer, a mastering engineer, and other highly specialized experts in their field, they finally have a high quality recording.
Now, they take that recording, the sum total of 4 peoples’ years of practice, their creativity, talent, dedication and hard work, and they make a CD of it. They pay for duplication of CDs and make digital downloads available online. All the while this was happening, they were building up fans by touring, engaing in social marketing, fliering clubs, and doing anything else they can think of or get their friends to help with to spread the word about their upcoming album. When the album is ready, they hit the road, touring endlessly, stuck in a van with people who they may or may not even like that much, living on pennies as they try to make people aware of their music.
This, my friend, is the “assembly line”. It is not the duplication that happens in the computer. The product is assembled over 15-20 years of intense work, combined with a dozen strokes of luck culminating in the right people meeting, creating that product, and getting the necessary financing to roll it out to the public.
Now, you think it’s not worth $0.99 because it doesn’t cost anything to make extra copies? Even if that were remotely true, if you want this magical process to happen again, you might want to make sure these people can eat.
If you can see this then why can you not see that absolute adherence to copyright is baseless?
Production -- effort, resources -- is scarce. Copies are not scarce. That means we should be paying for production, not copies. The ideal structure is: we pay producers the funds they need, and then let all copies of the product be freely available to all. Everyone producing is paid appropriately, and everyone can maximise the benefit. Is that entirely acheivable? Maybe not, but the point is it sets the upper bound on what we should be looking for.
Copyright only makes sense if there is no suitable alternative, and if it is not too onerous, wasteful, or counterproductive itself. The problem is that it is onerous, wasteful, and counterproductive now. The solution is not to keep hammering away at a dead old way of doing things, but to come up with good alternatives.
Plumbers are not born as such, they invest money and time to become skilled professionals; but when they fix your boiler, they don't ask for royalties every time you turn the boiler on, do they? They perform a service, you pay for the service, and everyone's happy.
For example, there is no reason why the entire process shouldn't be monetized. A lot of people would pay good money to see those recording sessions, turning a risky long-term investment into immediate profit; the musician would sell a service, like any tradesman.
But no, an "artist" should be able to struggle a couple of years, then watch the money flow in for the rest of his life (plus 70, exactly like a plumber's son... not). Why, it sounds a lot like rent-seeking, that most laudable of economic forces; should we really promote it with such draconian laws?
Btw, to go back about your point about good music being scarce: music that fits the mainstream canon developed by a certain industry in the last 50 years is indeed scarce, probably because it was developed around a model based on scarce distribution resources -- so you over-design one item and make it as marketable as possible to a wide demographic, because your distribution costs are high so you want to make them as repeatable as possible (i.e. you want to make one album and sell a million copies, not ten albums selling a hundred thousand, because you have to modify the physical production line for each album and re-do the whole marketing push through centrally-broadcasted mass-media).
In a world where such limitations are gone, music tastes will develop in different ways. The over-produced album has already been done with -- people buy single items now. Over-production of those single items will probably change as well, as people want faster and faster "updates". Changes in broadcasting are fragmenting tastes, making it very difficult to appeal to everyone, so the "waterfall model" of music production is producing increasingly diminishing returns. The industry will have to move to different models, like quick iterations (you write a song while you tour, and modify it depending on public reaction).
What's so "wrong", so unbearable about all that ? The fact that the Rolling Stones might get a reduced pension? Yeah, they really should be rewarded for ransacking the blues tradition...
There is a perfectly good reason why "the entire process shouldn't be monetized". It's a super big fucking distraction to have people at your recording studio when you're trying to do something that is already extremely difficult. The entire process IS monetized, because you're supposed to pay for the copy of the work you take when it's over.
And for the record, many artists do take songs on the road, try them out, and change them based on public reaction. Then, they come home, spend money and record it. You want a copy? Pay for it.
"Last I checked, no artists are selling MP3s to consumers on a per stream royalty basis. "
Still, every time the record is aired in public (bars etc), royalties are paid. And even when selling to consumers, they'll sell a vinyl disk, then a cassette, then a cd, then an .mp3, then a .wtf... and every time, it's the same damn recording, and if you try doing the format shifting yourself, they'd like nothing more than throwing you in jail.
And let's be honest: most record companies and artists ALREADY make more money from merchandise than they make on recordings, the same way comic book publishers make more money from toys than from actual comic books. This myth of the starving artist being robbed of revenue by downloaders is just that, a myth.
Now, where's that cassette that killed music back in the 80s...
Should the plumber charge $0.05 + a small profit or should the plumber charge $0.05 + a large profit to offset the cost of developing the robot? Once the robot is available, it costs the plumber basically nothing to fix your problem, but it took the plumber a sizeable investment to create the robot in the first place.
And I've already wrapped my head around the fact that I'm going to have to be agile to keep figuring out new ways to earn my own paycheque, so that I can afford that $1 repair.
No. A plumber wants to be paid for work, your musician wants to be paid a rent. A plumber wants to be paid once, your musician wants to be paid for every copy.
If your musician comes to me and offers to make a song, and I agree to pay to fund it, then fine: we make an exchange just like a plumber and customer. But a plumber does not then impose restrictions that I cannot copy their pipes and stuff, or cannot allow anyone else to use them.
A plumber is not given special monopoly privileges -- that is the difference. Now, such privileges might be pragmatically justifiable as a market mechanism (as is the contention of copyright), but there is clearly a difference between having them and not.
Buying an album from a musician is similar to buying a book about plumbing that a plumber wrote, and I imagine that most such plumber-writers would indeed have interest in protecting their copyright on their books.
These are entirely different business models, and we software engineers should understand them immediately. It's the difference between running a consulting business and running a product business.
The problem here is that a "product business" in the online world is hardly sustainable, because enforcing artificial scarcity of your product is basically impossible. Which is why the entire software industry is quickly shifting to SaaS models and consulting as fast as they can. The music business should do the same and stop whining.
The AAs want to cripple my computing devices and eliminate my fair use and first sale rights, regardless of whether I "take" any of their IP. A world without copyright would probably not be ideal, but I'd choose it in a heartbeat over the Right to Read world that they're demanding.
Any restrictions imposed on them through legal or technical means are artificial and have to be justified when weighed against the costs of imposing them. For instance, protection against plagiarism has a very large benefit for not much cost so it's easily justified. For music it definitely isn't as clear-cut.
It's not as if I'm not willing to spend either. I buy plenty of games from Steam and other places. I buy them because they actually sell stuff in my country and offer me convenience at prices I'm willing to pay. If the music business did the same I'd start buying music instantly.
Let's stop guilt-tripping people into buying music through thinly-veiled and largely inaccurate allegories and start treating piracy as an economic problem.
So, anyone spoiled enough to "not like waiting" can come and steal the fruits of someone else's labour, right?
I also take moral issue to calling piracy stealing.
Do you actively believe that morality is "mix and match what suits you" or is that just an implicit practice?
I think the way to approach the issue is to think what does the population want, because the population elects the government which then makes the law.
Since people are copying music, obviously they want free music. But they also want music. The question is, if copying was legal, would music go away (or decline)? I think for a lot of art forms it is obviously not so. People will create art no matter what, as has been shown over the centuries. Even today, getting rich probably should not be your first motivation when forming a band.
It becomes a problem with art that is very expensive to produce, like movies and computer games. I think part of the solution will be to move those things into Kickstarter mode, that is, make people pay in advance for their creation. In the same vein of course it should be easy to pay people after the creation. Already a lot of people seem to be willing to do so.
This I think also has some precedence in history, when artists typically had some sponsor.
Also of course technology will make those things cheaper to produce too - in the future it will be possible to simply add actors to your movie with a mouse click. Computers could simulate Tom Hanks, Marylin Monroe or whomever you desire them to simulate. Already today it is probably quite cheap to create the scenery in movies.
Is this one of the reasons games are all going free+in-app downloads? What's the actual state of mobile app piracy today? It seems like many mobile developers are already moving to alternative models not involving direct sales, whether that's a subscription, virtual goods, or pay-for-addons/upgrades.
About the only thing that I can think that will defend against this is a streaming/always online service that actively requires cooperation from a server as part of its implementation. Any offline licensing system can and most likely will be cracked eventually, until you end up with the equivalent of CD-keys and server-side detection of duplicates or invalid ones. Even then, if you're only using the remote end for license validation, that code can just be removed - the most viable models are either streaming content (in a way that can't be batched and rehosted/provided locally), or offering compelling multi-player / shared online features that require a valid auth token.
(No victim-blaming or other moral subtext intended. Just curious.)
In my opinion, we can not expect to make money from the straightforward sale of any form of IP for much longer. New models are being developed and services industries are adapting to offer the value that's traditionally been disseminated through IP sale .. this is where the future is heading.
The bleating, repetitive carrion-call of the old guard is becoming increasingly annoying. While their incentive seems obvious; the fact that these organisations are unable to innovate is even more blatant.
The finite resources aren't the final product, but the work that goes into it. Create Adobe Photoshop for me (not copy, but build from scratch).
"this is where the future is heading"
I no longer write applications. Everything I release is a service. In the past, there would have only been a one-time fee for my work, but now everyone needs to pay a monthly fee for it.
This is the result of piracy: monthly fees for everything.
Ultimately the most precious resource we have available is time - so I think that our economy should develop to a point where time is seen as the most valued currency.
"I no longer write applications. Everything I release is a service. In the past, there would have only been a one-time fee for my work, but now everyone needs to pay a monthly fee for it.
This is the result of piracy: monthly fees for everything."
I think that a service based model is fair - because there are ongoing costs associated with keeping software available. Maybe the only time this model falls down is when a service stagnates and isn't developed past it's initial release.
"It has nothing to do with not being able to innovate. Coming up with new music that people want is itself innovation, and people should be compensated if you would like them to keep innovating in that way."
I'm talking about the old-guard. I.e. the recording industry - not people who make music. People who make music have been doing so for tens of centuries or more. They do not need to be dependent on the music industry.
Sorry I was a bit blunt at the beginning of this reply, but I really am sick of listening to the same old shite repeated ad nauseum. The tide has turned .. it's impossible to push it back.
Be realistic - a lot of people in the music industry do not make music.
The problem is; people need to be compensated, but the way they've traditionally been compensated in the past is no longer tenable. This is where innovative ideas are required. Conceptually, copying an MP3 is no more theft than quoting someone without permission to a friend is theft.
Charge people for the service - not for the goods; because the goods have no finite value.
Ideas are easy and cheap. So cheap that they are functionally free. Turning those ideas into something concrete is neither cheap nor easy. Creating a song, a story, a painting, a sculpture, or an app takes a tremendous amount of effort. When a songwriter has an idea, it doesn't just magically appear on the page. The songwriter has to work to put it there. When I get an idea for an app, it takes a lot of effort to turn it into something that can be released.
The value in an mp3 is not in the bits themselves. Bits are cheap. The value is in the novel arrangement of those bits into something that is desired. When you copy an MP3 without paying for it (where applicable), you are conceptually walking into an art gallery and walking off with a lithograph without paying for it. It doesn't matter how many lithographs are available, you still walked off without paying for it against the wishes of the creator of that lithograph (after all, there would be no lithograph to steal if someone didn't come up with the source material.)
An executed idea in the form of an MP3 may be valuable, but it is not worth an unlimited amount of money.
When IP is sold in the same way as physical goods, it can be sold forever - this is problematic because notions of theft depend on the victim being unable to use the item that has been stolen.
The way you are refering to theft is far closer to what a legal professional might refer to as potential lost revenue. Even so, this is still questionable as many of these MP3 thieves wouldn't have paid in any case.
"When you copy an MP3 without paying for it (where applicable), you are conceptually walking into an art gallery and walking off with a lithograph without paying for it. It doesn't matter how many lithographs are available, you still walked off without paying for it against the wishes of the creator of that lithograph (after all, there would be no lithograph to steal if someone didn't come up with the source material.)"
No. No. No.
How on earth can this be a fair comparison? A lithograth is printed on paper or vellum. Stealing the lithograph would be similar to stealing a CD.
If you want an analogy that is fair .. perhaps the visitor to the art gallery walked out with a photograph on their camera or a JPEG file. Neither of which should constitute a crime in my opinion.
What would an honest Android-app allegory for this be? Perhaps a consumer is faced with these options:
1. An official shop, which accepts money (yay!), gives only some (boo!) of it to the artist, and offers:
a. The source code to build the app (i.e. a plastic disc that you have to rip yourself)
b. maybe, sometimes, a version of the app compiled for a 320x480 screen (acceptable lossy compressed files)
c. maybe, even fewer times, a version of the app compiled to use any screen size (lossless files, or high-quality lossy or whatever you like)
2. A dodgy (boo!) pirate site, which doesn't accept money (boo!), and offers all of the compiled versions.
Of course this is not even close to reality. No Android apps are compiled by normal end users. All paid Android apps offer 1c. Music piracy does not exist because of religious "information must be free" nuts like this article is talking about -- it exists because people's moral feeling about getting some money to the artist is not strong enough to overcome the inconvenience of 1a (or even 1b). Maybe we should conclude that the analogy has broken down.
Society does not "accept" this sort of piracy like it's a binary switch. The "morals" curve slides down, the "inconvenience" curve slides up, and at some point they pass each other. I see no reason why they can't trade places again -- if we actually try to do something about it instead of spinning clever allegories.
I suspect we need to look elsewhere to understand the motivations of app pirates (yes, I know this was not the point, but if you're going to be facetious...). The real thing is right there, for a few dollars. I've already given Google Checkout my credit card information. I cannot fathom what would make someone deal with sketchy sites (sketchy sites whose entire purpose is to install executable code on your device) to get the same thing they can just pay for. Maybe they are in fact just religious nuts.
 Honestly, I can't even be bothered to pirate most things these days. I'm culturally behind because filling in the gaps in what I can actually buy in FLAC would be a part-time job. If a record shop so much as rejects spaces in my credit card number I get bored and go listen to something I've already bought. This is a problem that could use some, as they say, disruptive innovation.
It's interesting to me because when something involves free software being used in un-intended ways, many here in the HN community have no problem describing it as theft. However, when it involves copyright violation, there are huge arguments about word usage.
This is just a tactic to make theft more acceptable. When you use nice words like "copyright infringement", people don't associate negativity with it and over time, people don't have a problem with it.
Over the course of the last 10 years, it seems to have worked. It's sad that many from the open source community have to be so hypocritical.
Identity theft is still called theft, even though your identity is not actually stolen.
Identities are supposed to be unique, its part of the whole idea of identity. If someone else is using your identity, you are being deprived that. So in that case, yes, it is analogous to someone actually taking something physical to you. You cannot fully use your identity once someone else starts using it.
Of course you can.
HTC steals from me every time the USB cable doesn't dock securely in the port.
Microsoft steals from me every time Windows crashes.
All of those steal time or money from a person who hasn't agreed to it.
It's not about stealing a physical object or not.
It's about doing something with someone's work (his program) without respecting his wishes (to be paid before you use it).
When you plagiarize a poem as your own the original still exists. But it's still stealing.
Firstly, what are the current equivalents of a mobile App Store for (pirated) music? There are definitely a bunch of places you can find it if you look, but few of them are as "one-stop-shop" as current app stores.
Secondly, does pirated music often outrank the artists/album name/track titles in general internet searches? Most of the time you'll get the artist, maybe some unofficial fan sites, and some dodgy-SEO lyrics/"free if you pay for our questionable rapidshare style hosting" that probably doesn't even have the content.
If you consider piracy-specific search engines, like TPB or whatever napster/gnutella mutated into, then you're more likely to find real content, but that requires knowing where to look in the first place.
If you consider 'your VC' as an artists music label, then they've probably already got some kind of enforcement system going on. You probably won't have to do all the 'policing' yourself - it's their loss just as much as yours (if not more, due to some of the interesting accounting) if copies aren't getting paid for.
All in all, it seems like a fairly weak metaphor, although I can see how it could become more of a problem in the future.
Edit: I forgot to mention "They’re doing the best they can, they say. Most of all, they’re complying with the law, they say." - I can't imagine many people who download pirated music do so without realising that it's illegal and/or immoral. Legitimate looking services like streaming sites are harder to judge - they might have a license for the content, or they might not. Compare this to an official platform App Store, where consumers can reasonably expect some level of dilligence in ensuring ownership. And if it becomes necessary, there's some sort of accountability back to the person who uploaded the pirated content.
I imagine the author here chose android because it has a less tightly controlled app store, and it may be possible to create anonymous accounts if you're only dealing with free apps (compared to iOS where you need to have bought a dev license to get any signing keys, even for free apps, as I understand it).
Large torrent sites, like The Pirate Bay or Demonoid, are one-stop-shops for music & film downloads.
does pirated music often outrank the artists/album name/track titles in general internet searches?
No, not for the band/track/album name, but for "$ALBUMNAME torrent" or "$ALBUMNAME download" pirate sites are high up.
The reference there is to the filesharing sites, not to pirates.
At the same time, there are legitimate indexing & hosting services who probably are genuinely displeased with the abuse of their systems. The same problem as the homebrew console hackers often enabling subsequent game piracy.
The tricky part is how to tell them apart, and what the legitimate concerns can do to prevent abuse, and the content rights-holders can do to deal with the bad-faith lot.
Providing the value/product that consumers are looking for as well is another big deal - from what little I know of mobile app-stores, the low-friction discovery/payment/install process, along with low-cost high volume business models is reducing piracy to some extent. Contrast with music, where DRM, onerous formats, and unavailability of a lot of content is encouraging or even forcing people to go the illegitimate route.
Bill Gates had problems with copying way back in 1976. It seems to have worked out OK for him. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Letter_to_Hobbyists
So the rebuttals were "it's hard to get" and "it shouldn't cost that much." Man, I heard that somewhere recently...
To me fair if Android is part of the "Google way" and maybe the solution is to have advertising bring in revenue (which goes back to AdSense). On the other hand iOS reminds of the Mac back in the day: The users seem to be willing to pay for software -- however that software better be damn good.
So perhaps the solution is to really think of both platforms as being a very different play from each other. Most developers think of their program as something to port between platforms, but maybe that's not what this ecosystem is about? In the same way the games that you would build for Nintendo DS wouldn't even be aimed at the same audience as the Xbox.
If I were to reverse The essay's tactic, by way of, for instance, rewriting a paragraph of another certain famous essay about the music industry (which is admittedly dated but still mostly relevant even in the age of iTunes), you could see the contrast pretty quickly. I doubt that anybody would agree that the software industry is this bad. Let's call this hypothetical essay "The Problem with Software" and see if you agree (with apologies to Steve Albini):
"Whenever I talk founders who are about to sign with a major startup incubator, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless Angel Investor at demo day holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed."
Let's say my hypothetical essay goes on to itemize point-by-point in a detailed and authoritative way how startup incubators and VCs virtually always end up screwing over founders and developers every time...well it couldn't because there are no such numbers, no similar data, because in general software startups don't operate that way. The dynamics in the two industries are entirely different and the analogy doesn't work, for various reasons not the least of which is that the average founder has a far higher chance of making money, according to the known risks, than the average musician relying on sales and downloads. VCs, in general are far more equitable (big assumption there but I'll stand by it anecdotely) than the average label, which operates on long-standing numbers-manipulation that rarely if ever compensate artists fairly or transparently. This doesn't make piracy right, it just makes attacking it relatively inconsequential to the artist.
The essay is right, albeit ironically so, about one thing. The music industry has indeed moved on. The future is much more than live events, though, it's innovative business models (like, say, for instance Earbits', which I'm intrigued by and really hope works) and creative manipulation of new media, as bands like Pomplamoose and OK Go have done. The music industry is a dinosaur, and piracy is only a small part of the problem. The main issue is that the music buying public is jaded, fragmented and far less easily manipulated into buying than in the past. The available music is vast in number and the average music fan can listen and partake in countless genres and acts, only a few of which might be shared by friends.
The essay's principles are in the right place -- defending the incomes of musicians, but the allegory ignores a chasm of differences between the two industries, the massive inequity of the music industry towards artists, and the simple truth that there's nothing anyone can do about it, certainly not through the old RIAA/ASCAP/etc. model.
Their behavior for the past 20 years can be cited as a reason not to want to contribute to them as businesses, but the reality is that, while most artists who have a label make very little, most who don't never make it at all.
If a good independent label wants to pick you up, like say Bella Union or Merge or Sub Pop (still) or the like then go for it, it might help. Or it might not. For some it's a big deal, but mostly in terms of promotion and profile, better tours. The good labels, like Bella Union, get very involved in that side of it, others not so much. Even then those lucky acts that are on good labels are still primarily touring bands, and downloads and sales and royalties are a small percentage of their income, unless something really breaks on radio, and that my friend is whole other ballgame and extremely rare from the average artists' perspective. Better to hope to get on a TV show or film, raise your profile some and get better tours.
Also, most of the time those higher-profile independent labels came along and were interested because those acts already had something going, some sales, regional numbers or whatnot that made the label relationship more like a partnership.
It helps to go into it from a position of strength, where you know you can walk away. And if you can walk away, you might not even need the Independent label. Mostly you need good management and good promotion to get better tour numbers going, build into a position of strength and really think about what means of income are available to you in an age where access to distribution channels (the primary former attraction of labels) are now available to virtually everyone.
If you know that's the kind of label you're looking at signing with, great! But the idea that labels are gatekeepers to distribution and royalties is a thing of the past.
Labels work best now when they act more like YC and less like RCA.
The average artist could learn the world from the average startup founder. Most don't have the temperament for it, and that's unfortunate. But those that do can take control over their income and business model in ways artists 20 years ago could never dream of. Earbits, Spotify and Pandora (which will pick up interesting unsigned artists, I hear them all the time) are great examples. iTunes and YouTube are still and will remain for a long time, viable and important ways to raise your profile.
This is the just the world we live in, and many artists I think are slowly realizing this as well. You can't passively rely on a distribution machine that operates in near total numeric obscurity to treat you equitably. Artists have no choice but to become business-minded, social networking and new media-savvy, and aggressively creative in that area.
What we need is YC for artists?
I myself have a hazy dream of a promotion/tech/PR/consulting company that can hand-roll technologies, web, mobile and such, tailored to the creative ambitions of musicians, to find new creative tools and ways of manifesting their visions that go beyond the album-tour-album cycle, which I also think is more and more a thing of the past.
I don't know if most of them do. If I look around in the android market there are some great apps, that very likely do not make any money although they offer actual value to the customer.
I don't get it, why should apps be released for free?
Especially on Android I am surprised as to how many free(mium) apps are available, which could and should be paid apps, since they offer value to the user.
Many apps however useful may not generate enough revenue by offering an ad-supported version of their app.
It's sad to see that the developer community is shooting itself in the foot by releasing so many apps for free/ad-supported. I am pretty sure that most ad-supported apps will not create a great revenue stream for the developer. Buyers simply get accustomed to this trend. See the divergence of revenue models between Android and iOS. I don't know if it's the market that speaks here, or maybe just a trend in developers not trusting in the value of their own product. All in all it seems that this trend of releasing apps for free does nobody any good, since it will stall innovation at some point.
On a side note, I would really like to see a comparison of how some similar apps perform which are either paid, freemium or donate. Maybe there is some threshold for when it makes sense to publish an app either freemium or paid.
It does nobody any good? How about the users? I don't buy the "it will stall innovation" argument. Having Linux be free didn't stall innovation, quite the opposite. I'd even say without it being free, we wouldn't be where we are now in regards to innovation. Large companies would still be in control. I know many companies depending on Linux, Firefox, MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Perl, PHP, Ruby, Python, Java, Flash, Apache, BIND, OpenOffice, irssi, Postfix; and the many innovations these free products provided and facilitated. If I think about the projects that weren't out to make money, but to do something good, the value of free software becomes even greater.
But at the base of it all: For some of us technology is still more about solutions and making life better, rather than just money. I have a job, I'm happy, why should I take money for software I would've written anyway?
Ain't a hard concept.
In my experience, apps work best as a gateway to another revenue stream or as an add-on product to an existing service. I only use free apps but I have subscribed (and paid) for web sites associated with those apps for expanded services.
A good example is an exercise tracking app which records your exercise routines, maps routes, etc. If this app is free but uploads your data to a web site which provides expanded functionality, online communities, and other services, I'd gladly pay for an account on the site.
There are tons of articles about this online. There are regularly articles about it on HN. Noel Llopis is one of many app developers who blogs about his real-world experiences. Here is one such article: http://gamesfromwithin.com/one-price-does-not-fit-all
thx, actually quite an interesting read.
I wouldn't say that the concept of selling an app is naive and outdated. But yes, competitors will probably release a similar app for free, which indeed is a dilemma.
Also, not all apps have potential to generate an alternative revenue stream, if so, great, otherwise I believe it can be quite problematic to monetize on many app concepts.
I think the new bjork album started going in this direction, but could have done it a bit more.
Unless the ev1l pirat0rs actually compiled a different version of your app in order to give it away for free without those messages (which seems unlikely given there's absolutely no incentive for them to do so) you'd make a pretty penny through the sheer volume of users.
Imagin busking to an audience of 1 million people, all equidistant from your guitar case with one dollar in their hand?
The scale at which digital distribution allows piracy is the same thing that will make you money: you have free distribution to millions of people, just figure out a way for them to voluntarily give you money and you'll be sorted.
If they do not want to do that, and instead would like each person who takes a copy of their work to pay for it, is that not also a choice they should have? Your choice as a consumer should then be to either pay that person for a copy, or not take a copy and move on.
Nobody is arguing that giving away music isn't a viable model for success - simply that it's not ethical to make that choice on behalf of content creators.
It should be fine for a developer (or musician, or other creator of content) to charge for their wares. If the app being available really is valueless or if the prospective customer doesn't believe it's worth what's being asked, they are free to move along and select a different product or to develop their own. I'm not sure why this concept is so looked down upon.
You're being an idealist - be more pragmatic and you'll live a life less angry.
I may only be speaking for myself here, but I honestly think the law will take a century to catch up here. We're on the frontier - with all the advantages and disadvantages that come with it (one advantage being, for example, the lack of any sort of regulation or licensing getting in the way of being a developer).
It's just sad that asking people to pay for things they take is being an idealist. I'm not angry. I just prefer to speak out against it than act like there's nothing wrong with it.
In another, less sophisticated time, you would have found a reality not far removed from the shop owner I described - and they would not have been considered lazy.
But a shop owner who railed against the shifting sands of humanity, pining for simpler times lost as he was pilfered blind, would clearly be sorrowful idealist.
We just finished a no budget feature film and knew we had to come up with a disruptive distribution strategy to get traction and avoid piracy. Our solution:
everyone who registers to download the movie will get to display a picture, logo or text of their choosing on a billboard in New York's Times Square.
Prices start from only $10 upwards. So for as little as $10 you can get any message / image / logo (as long as it's not obscene and you own the rights) up on a Times Square billboard.
Our strategy seems to be working.
I know this has been mentioned before but filmmakers, programmers, musicians, artists etc all need to think about how to engage an audience as a hook to the content. So by buying the content from the actual producers, they get much more value than just pirating it.
More info on our strategy: http://bit.ly/pgyGaR and on the movie http://bit.ly/n4XQG0 and http://on.fb.me/qcoACw
My partner (at the time) and I met with him regarding an application we developed during our last year of University that had seen a lot of industry interest during our formal presentation. He wanted to meet with us and discuss helping us market the app because he was close friends with my friend's family and helped students like us previously.
His only real question to us regarding the app was our marketing plan. "Sell it" is not a very good pitch despite us not knowing what-so-ever what we wanted to do with it (or what we were capable of doing without shooing investors away). He brought up the point that whether we want to or not we should not be giving it away for free. Why?
His argument was that if we were to put a few months of effort into development of an app to give away for free we were essentially robbing ourselves. I myself am a strong avocate for OSS and had a hard time agreeing with him, I gave him a perplexing glace in favor of a "wtf". He continued by saying that if we were to dedicate that much time only to give it away we were robbing ourselves of those hours of labour we invested as well as preventing any other student/developer/whatever from being able to make a living from the product line. By us giving away something for free that had a real-world value we robbed others from entering the market to make a dollar.
His argument was that we must charge something for our work and if we don't want to make any money to give the proceeds away to charity. By doing that we could allow others to enter the market and make a dollar to fuel future efforts and development.
Its sort of a funny way to think of things and sometimes I find myself agreeing with him but I'm never certain... I felt the idea of "free software" preventing the developers from making their share of the effort is a good example of how his side of things can be right in many cases.
Again, not saying this is my viewpoint so don't get all "up in my grill" :)
When I write an app, it's my right to choose how it is distributed in the world. If I want to sell it for 0.99, then it's my choice and I have to live with the risk of it not selling.
It is just as wrong for someone to take my work without paying for it as it is for me to take your work and sell it. In both cases, our right to choose for ourselves is being taken away.
Not as a capitulation to piracy, but because you'd make more money.
Since you obviously don't value the effort that I put into creating my thing, then you must not value the effort that you put into doing your thing.
- no malware
- possible online updates or other interactions
As long as these differences persist, your distribution method can easily add more value than the pirate copy.
The malware point is about quality. You might get the same quality from pirates, but then again you might get malware or simply a crappy rip. If you "buy legit", you are guaranteed good quality: high bitrate / lossless formats, no clicks etc.
The more I think about it, the more I see the two markets are fundamentally identical... which makes the music industry look even more stupid: with all their might and cash, they seem unable to be as profitable as some kid in California with a couple of computers.
"Piracy" exists for one reason and one reason alone: the price is too high for the consumer. There will always be a subset of the economy that will steal a particular good (i.e. for whom the price is always too high), from CD's to clothing to Ferrari's. This criminal element is simply a cost of doing business, really. In a healthy market, their costs are easily absorbed by a much larger subset that is prepared to pay the set price of the good. Match demand for the product reasonably well with supply and everyone is happy.
When a product is priced at a level that is greater than the market values, problems emerge. In open/free markets, you tend to get competition and innovation, and individual business losses. In closed/highly regulated markets, you tend to get black markets, bootlegging and all sorts of evasion if demand is high enough to warrant. This is as true for music and software as it is for gasoline, alcohol and copper wire. Music piracy is simply a black market that is only sustained because enough of the market thinks the price is too high.
The labels that have tightly controlled the market for music (commoditizing something that 50% of the population can supply) have done so by closing all distribution channels and limiting any real supply in order to exaggerate demand. Consumers didn't really know that they were being ripped off, since the supply chain was so tightly controlled. That changed with Napster.
Once the entire industry was exposed, and music began to revert back to a more natural value that one would expect for such a large supply, the market's opinion of the product began to change as well. (To be honest the shift probably went too far to the other side, but it started to regulate as things like itunes emerged)
What's evident is that there is clearly a value above zero that the market will place on music. If this wasn't the case, iTunes wouldn't be around. The problem that most labels - and sadly artists - fail realize is that the particular dollar point could be a lot lower than they would like it to be. Probably more like $.50 a song rather than the current $.99 cent price point.
The market will determine that price though, not the suppliers. Until then, major piracy will continue. Find that price point though, and piracy will go back to meaning peg legs and eye patches.
That's just plain not true. Film, TV, videogames, books, comics and news all fall under this. And I'm sure there's more industries I haven't thought of.
In the entire time I've visited HN, I don't think this has ever happened. This is the equivalent to a politician visiting poor neighbourhoods dressed like 50 cent, hoping to "level" with the community. So contrived.
And they solicit informants to report piracy (with lucrative rewards).
And they have a point.
Beyond his insensitivity to reality, Mr. Flores appears to have no understanding that copyrights are not rights at all. There's noting inalienable about them. To the contrary, they are - very explicitly - privileges. They are given to very limited numbers of people for (theoretically) limited times. For a sovereign society to continue giving out these privileges, it's going to expect something in return. If that includes an obscenely invasive and overbearing police apparatus that has the power and freedom to monitor every bit of data every person exchanges it's an easy deal to reject.
In spite of all his rage (or perhaps because of it) Mr. Flores has never stopped to consider that the crime of theft pertains chiefly to physical property and tangible goods. This has been true for thousands of years, meaning that there is now a very well established body of law relating to misappropriation of physical goods - one that extends, in various forms, worldwide. And there is no popular pressure to change this convention. Nor is there any sense that the policing required to maintain this convention constitutes a serious threat to human rights. Indeed, the creation of property rights, and their attachment to tangible goods seems to be a fundamental feature of societies that advance human rights, and a culture of autonomy.
Extending the concept of property rights and theft to intangible goods is a different matter entirely. A relatively recent idea, it was an experiment that worked reasonably well as long as intangible goods remained wedded to some physical wrapper which could be safely governed by uncontroversial property laws. Now that the wrappers have become obsolete, the ability to allow the safe and ethical extension of property rights into the sphere of the intangible has collapsed. Only reckless, short-sighted, or truly sinister players (the Maximalists) continue to press in this direction.
Smarter - and yes, more ethical - people properly dismiss copyright as an appropriate mechanism for governing the conduct of private individuals. That means they don't get involved in business that can only work if the Maximalists get their way. While copyright certainly retains substantial value as a tool for regulating the conduct of incorporated entities (which are, themselves, intangible entities), it is 100% incompatible with a culture of individual autonomy in the present day.
The world probably doesn't need (yet another) shitty app. What it does need are people who can imagine and build businesses that limit reliance on copyright to engagements with incorporated entities, while treating individual humans with healthy respect for their political freedom, privacy, and autonomy. Indeed, entrepreneurs should focus on products and services that INCREASE these qualities, not misguided attempts to undermine them for the sake of a fast buck with no concern given to the consequences.
Saying that you believe people have rights that should not be infringed does not mean you haphazardly support the enforcement of those rights in ways that cause more harm than good. I did not recommend that anyone be sued, that anyone be monitored, that anyone be spied upon or any other counter measure. Speaking out against injustice does not always require that you have a well-articulated plan for the foolproof solution to that injustice. The fact that you believe these people have no rights and that defending them is harmful is hazardous.
The simple fact is, for as long as there have been civilizations and law, most have said it is illegal to take something of value from someone else. You say it pertains only to physical goods, a cop out designed to suit your self serving needs.
There are two important facts to remember. The first is that, while taking a copy of something from someone is not theft according to Merriam Webster, if their product is valued and people will pay for it, but you take a copy under false pretenses and make it available for nothing at all, you dilute the value of their property and have stolen value from them. Imagine your investors diluting you down to nothing. They haven't technically taken your shares, but I suspect you don't like too much the results.
Further, while the flow of information and ideas should be free, nobody is infringing on your right to remember a song, take thoughts of it with you, tell other people about it, or even hum that song while you troll the forums. But when you require a physical copy of that song, bits stored on a device, in order to actually remember that "idea", your whole concept of the "flow of information" goes out the window.
You want to spread the idea of a song? Tell someone what it's about. You want a copy of a song for yourself, pay for it. It's as simple as that. I don't need to be a policy maker to voice that this is a principle I value among those people who have the integrity to honor it.
And you're absolutely correct to observe that hard drives are material, and that the atoms they contain constitute the 'fixed medium' that provides the bright and shining line between ungovernable ideas, and the restricted world of copyright protection. But you're mistaken if you think you have any inviolable rights in your work. Copyright is a right in name only. In absolutely every other regard it's a privilege.
If you lived in France, things would be different. French jurisprudence includes "le droit d'auteur". That is to say, they recognize a moral right of the author to control the dissemination and development of his work by others. When the French say "I have a right" they're entirely correct.
Things are different in America, where lawmakers rejected that concept flatly. Regardless of the way you feel about it, Le droit d'auteur has never been recognized in this country, and at this point, it's safe to say it never will be.
So it's not that I 'believe' you have no rights. I KNOW you have no rights. Because you don't. What you have is a privilege that 's increasingly archaic, based - as it is - on a rapidly fading ability to produce more development than it retards in the "Useful Arts & Sciences". In case you didn't know, that's the Constitutional language giving Congress the power to issue the limited monopolies known as patents and copyrights in the first place.
In contrast with France, America (like England, which is the source of much American civil law) views copyright not as an exalted moral right, but as a necessary evil tolerable only to the extent that it clearly benefits society as a whole.
That's a big difference.
Wrap your head around the idea that you're defending a privilege - not a right - and I suspect that the whole tenor of your argument will change dramatically.
"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" -- United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.
While you can make the argument that it may be a lesser right than the more primal human rights, it's factually incorrect to say that it's not a right. Says so in the Constitution, the document that defines our rights.
But wait, there's more.
Your argument falls apart even more because you are incorrectly placing the value of a work on the physical representation of the work. Using your interpretation, the primary value in the book Huckleberry Finn is in the pages of that book, not the words and ideas printed in the book. Alternatively, if I take Huckleberry Finn, run it through a jumbler and create a document that has all the words rearranged randomly, that it is just as valuable as the original work.
Also, you're factually incorrect about the concept of property rights being limited to physical property. If that were the case, plagiarism would be a legitimate practice. If theft is limited to the physical representation of a thing, then it should be legitimate for me to sit down and right a copy a work word for word and pass it off as my own. After all, there is little to no value in the words, so I'm not doing anyone any harm.
Smarter - and yes, more ethical - people properly respect the wishes of creators when it comes to how they express their right to distribute the fruits of their labor. They certainly don't spend six bloviating paragraphs to say "If there is something I want, I should be able to take it."
Brevity is the soul of wit, after all.
This was never about "I want stuff for free". It was about the avoidance of a hyper-invasive police state.
For what it's worth, I actually work as a producer. I'm on the sell side, not the take side. And moreover, I don't pirate. Between Pandora, Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes, (not to mention the general firehose that is the internet) I have such an astonishing array of free and very reasonably priced stuff, that I have no need to pirate. I mean, I don't even have the time for the stuff I've actually bought.
When working, I pay strict attention to rights and clearances. Not just because I'm a nice guy, but because I have to. I mean, compliance is so deeply engrained in the system that it's unavoidable. It's just the way things work. Moreover, I support this system. In spite of the complexity, it makes a lot of sense. In terms of a system for governing interactions between industry players, copyright is as good as anything else I can imagine.
But I'm not just a producer. I'm also a human being. I recognize that what works in a small, professional circle cannot scale to the point where it can govern everybody with a laptop and an internet connection. That's like expecting people to get formal authorization from the SEC every time they want to transfer $100 from checking into savings.
More to the point, I recognize that attempts to scale the existing system mean the creation of auditing and enforcement mechanisms that are absolutely terrifying in terms of raw power, and susceptibility to abuse.
It's the difference between a nuclear reactor quietly purring on the outskirts of town, and a nuclear bomb detonating in the heart of the financial district. Saying "hey, they're essentially the same thing" is true on one level, but it ignores context to an extent that is batshit crazy.
So unlike the jerkswho say "I have my rights, all I care about is my money, so fuck you pay me" I actually have a social conscience. I recognize that the way I made a living was dependent on historical conditions that no longer exist, and that like society itself, I need to adapt. If that means avoiding a nightmarish police state by radically redefining the limits of property rights in the sphere on the intangible, so be it.
The point is that those of us who make a living from intellectual property need to understand that we'd be toast in a country without strong democratic freedoms (i.e. the First Amendment). And we need to recognize that the extension of existing copyright law into every nook-and-cranny of digital life entails the development of a surveillance apparatus that will destroy American democracy. No app, novel, song, or movie is more important than that. And the real artists understand this better than anyone. After all, they're the first to get murdered when things really go bad.
Fortunately, our privileges (or, as you call them lesser rights) are limited. They take a back seat to the much greater rights of humans to live in freedom from the kind of surveillance and policing that copyright law - carried to its logical extreme - entails.
Personally, I think we should limit the application of copyright law to incorporated entities only. That is to say, individuals should be free to do what they want with whatever they find. In essence, it's about taking the concept of Fair Use, and expanding it to comply with the realities of the present day. While I don't think that authors should give up all control, I think that control should be limited to what incorporated entities do with a work.
Obviously, this doesn't mesh with today's business models. But so what? Today's models are leftovers from a bygone era. It's a new foundation for new models which creative people can adapt to. What it allows for is tremendous freedom for people to develop the culture using the works within it. That's a benefit for artists and audiences alike. Any business that becomes successful enough to merit incorporating steps up to the role of box office. Unlike individuals, these businesses would be subject to copyright rules, and would have to work with artists and producers to the mutual satisfaction of all involved.