06 April 2010

Nigeria, India, China: Our Copyright-Free Future

Here is another of Kevin Kelly's brilliant posts, but this time it's not about deep philosophical issues, but something really mundane: "How to Thrive Among Pirates". It is probably the best post I have read on the subject, since it manages to marry fresh anecdotes, a wonderful eye for detail and convincing analysis. Here's the summary (but do read it all):

1) Price your copies near the cost of pirated copies. Maybe 99 cents, like iTunes. Even decent pirated copies are not free; there is some cost to maintain integrity, authenticity, or accessibility to the work.

2) Milk the uncopyable experience of a theater for all that it is worth, using the ubiquitous cheap copies as advertising. In the west, where air-conditioning is not enough to bring people to the theater, Hollywood will turn to convincing 3D projection, state-of-the-art sound, and other immersive sensations as the reward for paying. Theaters become hi-tech showcases always trying to stay one step ahead of ambitious homeowners in offering ultimate viewing experiences, and in turn manufacturing films to be primarily viewed this way.

3) Films, even fine-art films, will migrate to channels were these films are viewed with advertisements and commercials. Like the infinite channels promised for cable TV, the internet is already delivering ad-supported free copies of films.

Which is, of course, pretty much what I and people like Mike Masnick have been saying for a while.

It concludes with another rather good summing-up of what's happening here, and where we are going:

Producing movies in a copyright free environment is theoretically impossible. The economics don’t make sense. But in the digital era, there are many things that are impossible in theory but possible in practice – such as Wikipedia, Flickr, and PatientsLikeMe. Add to this list: filmmaking to an audience of pirates. Contrary to expectations and lamentations, widespread piracy does not kill commercial filmmaking. Existence proof: the largest movie industries on the planet. What they are doing today, we’ll be doing tomorrow. Those far-away lands that ignore copy-right laws are rehearsing our future.

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ulyssestone said...

I think films are less affected by piracy. The expreience of watching a film in a cinema is totally different from watching a DVD at home. On the other hand, how many people can tell the difference of a CD and a high quality mp3 file on their playback system like the ipod earphone? I think that's why music industry has to find a way to sell something other than the music itself, in order to to survive.

Avatar's China box office is 200M USD, while the whole music sales for 2009 in China is estimated at 200M RMB. In another word, in a place like China where copyright doesn't even seem to exist, people live happily with pirated music, but still they are more than willing to pay for films that they can download as easily as any music. I think this gives an idea of what to sell in the future. The experience, the access service for these media and experience, not the media itself.

Glyn Moody said...

@ulyssestone: that is true, although the real comparison is between MP3s and concerts. Just as for films, the real experience is a live one.

ulyssestone said...

Well... U2 might be making 200M from a tour to support an album that sold 0.5M copies, concerts in China is also dead. I saw the Stones in a 8000 capacity gym in Shanghai, 7000 of them were expats. Actually the whole concept of music itself is greatly devalued here, people lost real interest in music, that's the real danger that the music industry should worry about.

Glyn Moody said...

Interesting - thanks

houshuang said...

Also remember that cinemas in China are only allowed to import something like 20 foreign movies a year, which means that they run those twenty movies very heavily for long rotations. I saw cinemas with 12 screens that would show Avatar 54 times in a day...

silu said...

Thank you for your comments!
your our copy right -freefuture of online.