Saturday, May 17, 2008

"Piracy is just another business model"

There are better ways of beating the pirates than suing your customers:

Media piracy will always be with us. But the pirates, Mr. Bylund writes, “can be beaten — it happens all the time — but not primarily by means of legal threats and lawsuits.” Rather, he says: “You subjugate these rebels with the tools of free enterprise. Piracy is just another business model, and the pirates will lose and go away when you come up with a better model.”

Consumers make buying decisions based on three factors, according to Mr. Bylund: “price, convenience and quality.” Pirates will always win on price (free), but media companies can and do beat them on the other factors. Among the examples he cites is the cable channel Comedy Central, owned by Viacom ( The Web site offers the complete archives of “The Daily Show” and makes them searchable. Hulu, owned by NBC and Fox, offers many television shows and some movies with limited (and short) advertisements ( All are offered in high-quality video.

But it should not stop there, Mr. Bylund says. “Figure out an ad-supported model if you can, or charge less than a dollar per episode. Let people burn it to DVD or play the file on iPhones for a buck.” Eventually, “piracy will force all the big-time content producers to move in this kind of direction,” Mr. Bylund says. “Capitalism, properly applied, will beat the rebels every time.”