Thoughts on piracy, greed and entitlement

Recent posts by MG Siegler on piracy and an additional explanation later, as well as Oatmeal's cartoon made me think about piracy and my attitude towards it. In a nutshell - piracy is bad but the content providers are wrong to build walls in front of us. I'm mostly with MG here.
Old walls don't work anymore

I live in Europe so we're used to receive all the content way later than our American friends. It was OK in the 80s but now with broadband internet it's really not a big deal to get the content anytime you want. The old geo-wall doesn't work anymore. The big media companies still don't get it... and instead of providing content for us, they keep on maintaining the walls and try to punish us for piracy by saying it's the same as stealing.

What's the root of piracy? The fact that you cannot get the content legally but you can get it easily from other sources.

Apple understood it - when Napster failed the big content providers started fighting Kazaa and other torrent-related networks instead of building their business around Napster-like model. Apple built iTunes Store and they quickly became dominant in the market.

The key of Apple's success is that you can get content at a click of the mouse. That's why I love my AppleTV so much :-)

AppleTV rescued me from pirating movies

My wife is an IP lawyer and she never agreed on us pirating movies... but she did want to watch the movies with me... and renting movies from the rental shops took so much time... every time... so when we bought the AppleTV we finally got what we wanted - an easy and affordable way of streaming movies legally by renting them from Apple directly. No more driving to the rental shop, just "what do you want to watch today?" and with a few clicks streaming it to our LCD screen. Sweet.

Even Apple didn't get it totally right...

... when they removed TV-Shows rentals. With $0.99 per episode, we were exploring different shows and watching them directly through AppleTV. For less than one buck it was a no-brainter. When they removed this option, we just settled on one show (we bought a season pass) and we stopped watching more shows. It was stupid on Apple's part to remove it. What we did is we started using my proxy server in the US (I'm having one as most of my business is done in the US) for streaming directly from Hulu... for free. Sorry Apple. I don't want to own shows, I want to watch them and that's it. Just like I don't want to own movies.

Although I'm legally watching movies, I still need to use tricks

Like I have my American iTunes account although I don't live in the US that I need to fill up with prepaid cards. Like I'm watching Hulu though and American Proxy server... The geo-wall is still there and I need to get over it anyway. Even though I'm paying. I even wanted to pay for Hulu Plus but they won't accept my non-american credit card. Need to get one upon my next visit to the US.

You see what's happening here? I still need to use tricks... to actually legally pay for content! Isn't that crazy? Well, many of my friends who still pirate movies and shows think I'm crazy...

The point is - when you build walls and don't let us pay - you do force us to pirate or find ways...

This is 21st century. We have access to the internet, you know? We even have the money to spend, you know? It's got nothing to do with entitlement or bad will. It's got to do with new ways of consuming content. We have broadband internet, iPads and iPhones... and we want to consume the content through these devices and pay for it... but maintaining a status-quo by the old media companies is stupid... and I'm hoping something very soon will disrupt them heavily. Building walls is not sustainable.

Guys, just use the energy to serve your growing number of potential customers and not to build and maintain the walls... the walls will fall, sooner than you might think. MG's post is a great example of it.

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Thursday, March 22, 2012 (business,life)

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Hubert Taler
Mar 22, 2012 17:02
It's very frustrating! I had this problem just yesterday, I could not download a game from xbox live because I'm currently in Germany and this particular game is not available here (but my xbox account is Polish).

I wrote some thoughts on the nonsense of region lock (unfortunately in Polish) in 2010 here:

Mar 23, 2012 07:54
I agree. It's stupid. And Apple iTunes is also flawed due to strange music copyright policies. Some songs appear and disappear from the store!
Michael Sliwinski
Mar 23, 2012 11:29
Some Rentals disappear from the iTunes store, too. Geo-walls are stupid, these content-providers seriously don't understand we'd want to pay for stuff... the prefer to keep the status-quo.

Hubert and TesTeq - you're totally right, had similar experiences over and over.

Tomasz Mioduszewski
Mar 23, 2012 14:00
I agree with you that Geo-walls are stupid. But the same refers to the details in the agreements licences etc. Companies make them so complicated, that no matter how hard you'll try - anyway they have the chance to say that you did it wrong and against the licence.
My impression is that those "tricks" (as you name it) also cause that you could be called "pirate", as you don't obey the regulations of their licences. So it's the choice: to be a pirate and download stuff or to pay for viewing and being a pirate. Not much of the choice to me :(
Michael Sliwinski
Mar 23, 2012 17:24
I still feel better crossing the geo-location wall and paying for content, although it pains me that I have to go such great lengths to legally obtain the content... this is seriously crazy, but I prefer to use the tricks and pay for content rather than just flat out pirate content from the torrent web sites.