My latest Guardian column, "Why the entertainment industry's release strategy creates piracy," looks at the weird entertainment industry practice of defending their right not to sell us the things we want to buy, and the rather more odious practice of asking the public to foot the bill for this strategy:
In a real marketplace, the ability of entertainment companies to stagger their releases would be curtailed by the willingness of customers to put profits ahead of their own desire to watch TV or movies when the rest of the world is talking about them on Twitter and Facebook – and not six months later, timed to coincide with a bank holiday. However, by equating watching TV at "the wrong time" with theft, the entertainment companies have been pretty successful in convincing politicians that the public should foot the bill for this decision through costly market interventions, up to and including a branch of the City of London police charged with finding copyright infringers.
Which brings us back to the empirical evidence on lawful alternatives and piracy rates. The fact that people eschew the black market when there is a legitimate alternative tells you that they're not thieves looking to steal. Rather, like the notional customer who sneaks in her own fizzy drinks rather than paying for the cinema's insane markups, they are potential customers whose purchases have been forfeited by a business that has violated rule number one: offer a product that people want to buy at the price they're willing to pay.
Why the entertainment industry's release strategy creates piracy
More than 10,000 people have signed onto EFF’s open letter to HP CEO Dion Weisler, taking the company to task for its dirty trick of using a security update to revoke its customers’ ability to print with third-party ink.
Yesterday, Google announced “Youtube Go,” an “offline first” version of the popular video service designed for the Indian market where internet coverage is intermittent, provided by monopolistic carriers that have a history of network discrimination, and where people have a wide variety of devices, including very low-powered ones.
I’ve written an open letter to HP CEO Dion Weisler on behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, asking him to make amends for his company’s bizarre decision to hide a self-destruct sequence in a printer update that went off earlier this month, breaking them so that they would no longer use third-party ink cartridges.
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