A few weeks back, Michael Moore's latest film, Sicko, was released and fared pretty decently at the box office, despite being available on P2P networks
-- a situation one hyperbolic article described as "every film maker's worst marketing nightmare."
That's a story that's played out time and time again, as the mere availability of pirated content hasn't held back
the sales of legitimate content. Now, stories about the latest Harry Potter book being available on file-sharing networks
are starting to come in, ahead of the book's release this weekend. This news isn't being met with the same level of media freakouts as when a reporter discovered Sicko online, with even the CEO of Barnes & Noble saying it "won't sell a single copy less"
of the book despite it being available for free online. The biggest reason for this is the inconvenience of the pirated copies: they're huge PDFs, reportedly of low quality
. To approximate the book-reading experience, users would have to print out all the pages, which could be time-consuming and expensive, while reading the book on a computer screen or monitor wouldn't be a lot of fun for many people. This draws parallels to other forms of piracy: for instance, while most new movies are available for free from file-sharing networks, plenty of people still want to pay to watch them in a theater, for a variety of reasons
. Certainly there are people who will overlook any amount of drawbacks to get free content; chances are they wouldn't pay for legitimate content anyway. But there remains a large market of people who are perfectly willing to pay for content -- so long as content producers can provide them with sufficient value.