Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution
Subject:   Again, readers miss the point
Date:   2002-12-13 10:17:33
From:   anonymous2
What endlessly amazes me is the skewed view that some individuals take as they read an article that they perceive to be contrary to their opinion.

Tim wasn't even remotely suggesting that piracy was something that he condoned. Rather, he was pointing out (amongst other things) that while theft of such intellectual property is wrong, it per-force actually strengthens the ability of content authors to sell their wares.

What amazes me even more is the outright condemnation of all individuals as having criminal intent. It's simple B.S. to suggest that given a choice of free, stolen material vs. paid-for content any individual would choose the illegal option. That's not my approach and it certainly isn't the approach of the vast majority of the people that I associate with. Indeed I know people who take such theft in stride and who make no legitimate effort to right the matter. But I can tell you categorically that those folks are in the minority.

I'll point out again (as many have in the past) that the same outcry was heard when VCRs became widely avilable, when audio cassette became available and when CD-R evolved. Yet, there remains a multi-billion dollar music and movie industry. Those markets in fact are growing.

More to the point: The argument from the media giants (and some of Tim's readers) seems to be that given a choice everyone will steal and that theft is causing irreparable harm to those industries. The facts are that such copying has in each case helped the very industries that raise such a stink. No one suggests that it's ok to steal (not here and not in Tim's article). Instead, the truth is that such illegal activities will always occur by a small minority, when access to a rich variety of legal materials is restricted. The record and movie industry is starting from the wrong perspective. What they should be doing is assuming that people really do want to buy what they have to sell (or they wouldn't be in business) and that they will pay for quality material that they can conveniently get at a good price.

Is acquisition of materials without the consent of the author illegal, immoral and condemnable? Absolutely. Time suggests the same. Does the theft of that property materially threaten the very core of those industries? That's silly.

Make a variety of materials (not just what the companies deem "marketable") available to network consumers at a good price and I'm convince (as are many, many others) that the record and movie industries will immediately and ultimately benefit.

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  1. Tim O'Reilly photo Thanks. You nailed it.
    2002-12-13 11:15:23  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

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