Pirates: Give Away 50% Of Your Salary & See How You Like It!
In my Is Demonoid a DOJ Trap To Catch Unsuspecting Pirates Hub, I've taken a lot of flak for defending the rights of copyright holders to gain reasonable compensation for the use of their created works. There have been many comments (a fair number of them deleted due to language Australian Sheepshearers would be embarassed to use) which attacked my viewpoint as according to them, every copyright holder is a greed-defiled fornicator of innocents, and defending their nebulous "right" to obtain at absolutely no cost to them the created works of modern literature, art, music, media, software, and anything else that they may covet.
One of the latest comments was from a "Sir Patrick" who in sharp contrast to many other commenters restrained himself from ad hominem attacks as well as fallacious digital rights diatribes, and presented decent arguments supporting the standpoint of copyright infringers. His comment was as follows.
I've read this page top to bottom and while I understand both arguments, I'm inclined to take the side of the pirates here. What people have to understand is that there is a reason why people infringe copyright agreements. For the most part, these people don't have the disposable income to put into books, music, dvds etc. Their money NEEDS to go towards gas, electricity, and heat for their homes.
What you need to understand is that if piracy was not there its likely that while the sale of your book might rise a little, it won't be a large increase as many people still won't be able to afford it.
Also with regards to software pricing, are you realy that naive that you think corporate giants like Microsoft or Adobe would slash prices if the pirates suddenly stopped? If they are making sales at that price then they would leave the price as they stand. The high prices of their software push people into copyright infringement. Microsoft and Adobe have to make the first move in order to solve this problem.
Sir Patrick, you've made good points in an eloquent manner. However, I have to respectfully dispute your conclusions. Let us assume that you are a craftsman as a profession. Working full time, you produce 100 widgets per month and sell them for $50 each. One day I arrive at your location and ask for a free widget. My rationale is that I don't have sufficient disposable income after the monthly overhead expenses I need to live. Let's say that you have compassion for my predicament and donate me your widget. I thank you very much, and five of my friends arrive tomorrow with the same request. Ten the next day. Twenty the next.
You are now faced with approximately half of your monthly production being given away free, thus your monthly income drops from $5,000 to $2,500, but your manufacturing and other costs stay constant. You find that you cannot afford to maintain production at this rate, therefore you have the following choices:
- Raise the price of each widget to $100 to compensate for the 50% you're giving away free.
- Announce a "No More Freebies" policy.
- Maintain your price and go bankrupt.
If you choose #1, you will find that you will have a hard time selling widgets at double the price.
If you choose #2, you are confronted by "pirates" who call you a greedy bastard who is making billions off the sweat of people stupid enough to pay you.
If you choose #3, then everybody loses. You have no more income; your paying customers lose their source of new widgets; and even the pirates lose, as they have no more sources of new widgets to get for free.
There is absolutely no difference between intellectual property and tangible property. I have to work just as hard for months to craft a bestselling book as the widget craftsman does to produce widgets. Is there an actual difference between my pushing keys on my keyboard to write a book and a Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) operator pushing keys on his keyboard to produce a physical machine part? We're both sitting at a keyboard in front of a screen pushing keys all day. What difference does the actual final product make? Can anyone please tell me why I have to freely donate about half of my income to copyright infringers if the CAM operator doesn't have to as well?
I reject the argument that because my craft is intellectual rather than physical, I am not entitled to derive compensation for my work. And I assure you that if any of the copyright infringers were told that from this moment onwards 50% of their own salary would have to be cut since half of whatever they do or produce must be given away for free, they would go ballistic. All of a sudden the arguments that they propose against copyright holders would not seem so convincing... if they are on the side that gets the huge financial bite taken out of it!
Your assumption that Microsoft and Adobe would maintain current high prices should piracy be miraculously terminated betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of production, marketing, and pricing dynamics. If, say, Adobe were to continue to sell Photoshop at $700 a pop, another competitor would figure out that they could make a great profit at $350 for a competing version (which is the "real" cost of Photoshop if we assume a 50% piracy rate) and then Adobe would either have to chop prices or face a precipitous drop in their sales of Photoshop.
In most markets my book sells for around $20. From that I make about $1, as the rest is swallowed up by the multiple layers of distribution from publisher all the way down to retailer. If we could double the sales of our book through the elimination of the piracy contingent, the retail price would swiftly drop to $10, making it far more affordable to anyone who wished to legally read it.
"The high prices of their software push people into copyright infringement." Yes, and there is one and only one reason for these high prices: the copyright infringers themselves. In order to help themselves to products which they have absolutely no legal right to, they are pushing up and up and up the retail prices for all of the law abiding citizens who believe that a creator of a work is actually entitled to fair and reasonable compensation.
Piracy is criminal. Period.