Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2 cents on Publishing and Piracy

It all started with this tweet . As I was also bestowed upon the honor of digital publisher, let me offer my 2 cents to this discussion

Before go further, let me add few Disclaimers, even at the danger of the rest of my thought process losing its relevance!

  • I have committed sin. I have downloaded songs, movies and ahem even books.
  • Do I feel good about them? Definitely no. [of course, i can try to justify them with context, but at the end of day, it is definitely not sharing. More on this later!]
  •  Food, books, music and movies, each of them are very different and cannot be treated the same.(as usual there are exceptions)
Sharing vs Stealing

I buy a book and lend it to others. More than one person has read it, but still the author and publisher is getting the money from only one person.

I buy a book, other person photocopies it, still the author and publisher get paid only for one copy.
Irrespective of how it is being termed, sharing or stealing, the author or publisher don't get their due. 

At least, when it is photocopied, the photocopier makes some money!

Online or offline, sharing or stealing, the problem remains the same. The author and publisher not making the money they could (not should) be actually making. [number of people who paid for the book vs the number of people who read it]

The digital arena becomes a different ball game and outrage occurs due to the scale and unfortunately the scale matters!

Can we stop Piracy?

Are you kidding? Definitely No! No matter what kind of DRM is being used, there is always an hack and you can get something for free.

Can we cut down the losses due to piracy?
I strongly believe, that is possible. let me offer few thoughts on this context in general and from my personal experience
Personal Context
I have always preferred to buy original books rather than the cheapster version(pirated printing) as long as it was affordable. [How you define affordable is another question]

Given a choice to watch a good movie in theatre, on laptop/tv on a original DVD that is expensive, on laptop/tv on a pirated dvd, pirated cheap streaming version? I always preferred theatre.

To put it simply, i really don't mind and would be happy to pay for my consumption as long as the payment methodology is easy and affordable.

Yeah, its just you! what about others? hmm well. Lets take a look at the

General Context

Isn't Apple iTunes making revenue? Before asking, how much money are they potentially losing because of piracy, it is to be noted they considerably brought down the revenue loss to the music industry.

Why does Chetan Bhagat sell?

Why do still there are millions of copies of books sold, when they can be downloaded for free with sometime on Internet?

Remember, fifty shades of grey, before being a bestseller was absolutely free online and taken down later before it went for offline publishing.

Even in local context, Ponniyin Selvan is priced differently by different publishers and people do buy at varied prices.

Before thinking about alternate models, we need to have answer for these

most important question(s)

"How do you put a price on your creative content?"How much does a author wants for a book? a movie producer for his movie? How do we value the worth of time?
Remember these are the days, Apple offers it iOS for free and companies like wechat(tencent) sell smileys and virtual goods!

So what's the conclusion

  • Piracy is a challenge that is here to stay. No one can eliminate it. Just live with it.
  • There will be a small section of people who are good natured and still integrity, ethics and fairness matter to a lot of people.
  • There will be another small section of people, who will always cut corners, find loop holes, would like to live on freebies. Remember the old song, until a thief wants to mend his ways, thefts cannot be stopped.
  • There will be another major section of people whose behavior can be altered and can be nudged to pay. Figure out how to do it.The online/digital opens up several other alternate models of revenue. Feel free to explore and exploit. (Here, exploit means, the usage of models rather than people! Just to be clear)
  • The hard reality is the industry is being disrupted, the rules of the game being changed. Adapt or get annihilated. 

1 comment:

Ramesh said...

All true; but publishers, especially music label guys are no saints. You have to buy an entire album, it is ridiculously priced , availability severely limited and then they expect consumers to patiently accept all that. Yes, when rules are rewritten and somebody offers a meaningful price and easy availability, most people will pay. Price a book at Rs 100 and most people will buy. Price it for Rs 2941 and people will borrow.