Convenience Matters: People Will Still 'Pirate' Content That Is Available For Free In Less Convenient Packages

from the stating-the-obvious dept

About a year ago, some commentators were positively shocked that tons of folks still got the latest Radiohead album via BitTorrent rather than the band's own pay-what-you-want site, which allowed people to get the music for free. However, the real point (which many seemed to miss) is that the reason people will often access the content via unauthorized sources isn't just because it's free, but because it's more convenient and doesn't require leaping over annoying hurdles. Plus, for many, it's a single interface and a single source for all the content they want.

So, it should come as no surprise at all that plenty of folks are still downloading unauthorized versions of TV shows that are available in authorized streams for free. First off, downloading the content lets users watch the content when and where they want -- and allows them to archive it or watch it on other devices. Second, it's just a lot more convenient for many users to get the content that way.

Once again, it looks like the entertainment industry got hung up on that whole "free" bit, when that's hardly all there is to the equation. Just because they put something up for free doesn't mean they've effectively competed with the alternatives. When the alternatives offer more and better "features" and much greater convenience, the "free" part is only one of multiple selling points. Simply putting content up for free without matching those other features means that plenty of folks are still going to get the content elsewhere. Rather than fighting it, it's about time companies learned ways to use this to their own advantage.

Filed Under: authorized, convenience, free, piracy


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2008 @ 8:22am

    I agree with the convenience thing completely.

    If there was a P2P network that *charged* for downloads (say... I dunno, 5 cents a track or something), but it had all the albums and singles from every band signed to all major record labels on high quality, DRM-free MP3s (or the format of your choice), I would honestly use that and pay the small fee rather than spend time trying to hunt down a well seeded, high quality torrent of a relatively obscure band that not many people like. Same with TV-Shows.

    And yes, it's highly annoying not living in the US when it comes to TV-Shows. Take a recent example, The Venture Brothers (Adult Swim cartoon). In the UK we don't really get adult swim, we get 2-3 hours of old repeats after midnight on another channel when that station closes for the night. The US, however, got a new episode each week as well as a streamed version of the show (at a slightly lower quality) available the night before, but only to the US (can't stream it from the UK, for example). And the DVDs already for sale are only region 1, there aren't any region 2 DVDs. That is pretty silly when literally everyone I know in the UK actively enjoys the show, and we *all* have to go through "pirate" methods just to enjoy it.
    The same with Mystery Science Theater 3000, which I don't understand. It was a popular show. It ran for 10 years. And yet still, the only DVDs available are Region 1.

    And as Graychin said, pirated DVDs don't come with anti-piracy warnings, which is a huge plus. One of my DVDs has copyright notices at the end of the film in *every single language of Europe*, one after the other, and it's unskippable. So that's a solid 5-6 minutes of "warning, this is protected under x law" in about 20 different languages, and the same appears on my futurama and family guy DVDs (along with a stupid "you wouldn't steal a car or snatch a purse from an old lady so don't download movies because these things are the same" movie before the show starts). Ridiculous.

    /rant

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