A sense of entitlement

This headline annoyed me. “Gaming industry lose ‘billions’ to chipped consoles

Big business and media companies frequently complain that piracy loses them vast amounts of revenue, a cry which all too often is swallowed up by the news media and wheeled out as headlines.

It’s rubbish.

Copyright violation (call it by the proper name please) costs businesses nothing like the amount that they claim it does. So what if copying a game, film, song or piece of software gives nothing to the creator at that point? In the vast majority of cases the person that copied something was never going to give the publisher any money. They either would have gone for a cheaper alternative, or they would not have paid for anything at all.

This idea that a copyright holder is losing out comes as part of a larger sense of entitlement that seems only to be held by rich people. When they see something getting popular, making money or not, they think that they ought to be getting some money out of it. This happens even when they had nothing to do with it!

There is a very strong argument that people that copy things actually generate extra income for the copyright holders. People that download a lot of music and video tend to purchase more music and video than those that don’t. People that copy software often then recommend that other people get, and usually pay for, that software, or may use a copy at home but pay for a version for work.  Photoshop is a common example of that. I’m sure Microsoft is quite happy when teenagers and students copy Windows and various development tools, because it means that they learn on those systems, and later go on to purchase and recommend those systems later in life. Microsoft has even been known to give away copies of these things to students at university in order to hook them.

Patent trolls are another example of this inflated sense of entitlement. There are companies that exist purely to gather up patents and copyrights purchased at low prices, wait until someone builds a business on principles affected by those patents but not say anything, then years down the line, suddenly threaten a lawsuit unless that business pays royalties on all of the affected products, past and future.

The concept of net neutrality is needed because of another example. Take the scenario of a person at home watching a Youtube video.  The consumer pays Internet Service Provider, which we will call ISP A. The content provider pays ISP B. Both ISPs link in the middle. In the UK the link up is often at Telehouse in London. Currently, those two ISPs have an agreement to carry all traffic from each other because it balances out. But now, ISP A is demanding money from content provider to transfer information to consumer. If the content provider doesn’t pay, ISP A could slow down their traffic while speeding up that of another content provider that did pay, or worse, just dump their traffic. But hang on, the consumer has already paid their ISP to carry traffic from the content provider! ISP A is effectively taking bribes to sell out their customer.

With internet providers selling out their customers, big businesses using overly broad patents to kill innovation and small business, music copyright holders demanding extra money to use a song that you have already purchased on your MP3 player instead of a CD, and many other examples, be in no doubt that big business and its rich owners are not working in your interests.

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

5 thoughts on “A sense of entitlement”

  1. I think copyright infringement hinders free software and help crush creative niches industries. It also kills the concept of a free market.

    Consider all the illegal copies of Microsoft Office in use out there. If each user really did have to pay £400 for their copy, do you think they’d still be using Microsoft, or would they have chosen Open Office instead?

    Consider all the illegally downloaded movies and music available. If none of it was possible – if you had to pay the market rate for that content – then I suspect many people would seek out cheaper product – niche movies, user generated content, unsigned bands etc.

    I don’t agree with most of your post, but I think the above point was more useful 😉

    Cheers,
    David.

    1. That is a very good point. The use of commercial software without a license probably does block the take up of free alternatives. I promote the use of Free Open Source Software wherever I can, for example routinely installing OpenOffice on computers that I supply. I also refuse to breach any copyright in the course of my business activities. I am frequently in a situation where I have to re-install windows on a customers computer and they do not have their original CD of Microsoft Office. My response is that I will not install Office without the disk and license key. The customer will often tell me that they will get a copy from somewhere else at a later date and refuse my offer to install OpenOffice.

      I do stand by my points that copyright violation leads to increased sales, and that copyright violation does not deprive business of any money, because that money never at any point belonged to the copyright holder.

      1. “copyright violation does not deprive business of any money, because that money never at any point belonged to the copyright holder.” – so in the absence of “freely” downloadable music, those people who own iPods full of illegally downloaded music would buy an iPod and just look at it?! I don’t believe it. I think they’d buy a smaller iPod, and buy CDs or legal downloads with the money saved.

        There are obviously people who wouldn’t spend a penny on music under any circumstances. (That’s why the “every pirate copy is a lost sale” argument is wrong)
        There are obviously people who will grab lots of music, paid and free. (The fact these downloaders also buy more music is not evidence that downloading drives purchasing – these people just really like music! Downloading isn’t the cause of the behaviour, but a symptom)
        I think you probably know lots of people in both of these groups.

        But I think the majority (not students, not that rich, not that poor, not that honest) will buy more if they _have_ to, and less if they can get away with it. I think of the family member who gave my Mum a pirated CD for Christmas!

        They still spend the money – it doesn’t disappear – but they probably spend it on a 42″ TV rather than a rack of CDs. If you’re happy for a mass transfer of money from UK musicians to Japanese electronics firms, that’s all well and good.

        Cheers,
        David.

  2. One of the main issues surrounding ‘piracy’ is that it’s seen as socially acceptable :: because the ‘victims’ have never held the moral high ground. eg, music industry – no R&D required for Compilations, Greatest Hits, or CD re-issues of old vinyl, yet full price! Biggest selling CDs at higher prices so no price reduction for volume… etc.

    In short, The media industries (of all types) charge what they can reasonably get away with. And us end-users will always take what WE can reasonably get away with!

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