Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wil Wheaton blames media piracy on entertainment industry

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Wil Wheaton
Wil Wheaton

The Lord Geek speaketh: Wil Wheaton was interviewed at Comic-Con and asked about his feelings regarding online filesharing (ie. “media piracy”), and he promptly and rightfully put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the entertainment industry for failing to provide enough decent alternatives to online filesharing technology:

Wil Wheaton: As soon as the entertainment industry provides an alternative to bit-torrent -- or an alternative to piracy -- that makes it easy for honest people to get access to the program, then the piracy dries up.

Gabe Newell​ [CEO of Valve] says that pirates provide better customer service. How many times have you paid for a DRM license for something and the server goes down, or you travel across the border? I rented some episodes on Amazon of Doctor Who: when I went to Canada -- I paid for them in America; I live in America -- they say “you can’t watch it anymore because you’re not in America anymore.” That made me angry because I was being honest; I was an honest person. If I had stolen it, I would be watching it.


Then there’s people that will pay for something -- and want to. You just have to make it easy for them -- and reasonable.

Of course, there will always be people who simply refuse to pay for anything as long as there’s a way to get what they want for free. But, for the majority of “pirates” (myself included), online filesharing through BitTorrent and other methods (such as FrostWire or whatever) only provide a way for us to acquire content that is otherwise unavailable to us, either because it’s too expensive, or simply because the choices in service offered to us are crap. As Wheaton noted, the idea that you would have to pay several times to see the same show in different regions is one such example of a ridiculous limit; you already paid for it, it should therefore be yours forever and everywhere.

Of course, even offering the very best services and products won’t completely halt online piracy; for one thing, it’s simple human nature to want everything now and with as little cost (monetarily or otherwise) as possible, and anyone with a functioning synapse would know that fighting human nature itself is forever a doomed endeavor. You might as well try and get people to stop breathing. There are also cases where people would be happy to pay for something, but lack funds to do so (which was my case for the longest time). And, just as they do, I don’t believe these folks should be expected to hold out on getting something they want just because they don’t have the money for it if they do have an alternative method of acquiring it. (Again, human nature.)

But, even if it won’t kill piracy dead, having companies get with the times and come up with ways to provide more content, more conveniently, and for less, is still an assuredly win-win scenario. Customers get the stuff they want easy and quick, which generates positive feedback, which leads to more people seeking and obtaining their services.

Or, to put it in terms companies can understand:

Chart: 1) Better service = 2) Happier customers = 3) Positive feedback = 4) More customers = 5) Profit!

It’s simple logic, folks.

(via @BadAstronomer)