Musical artists large and small can make money from live gigs and merchandise other than the music itself. TV studios could stop a lot of piracy if they had global show broadcast launches that were all within the same 24-hour window. Fox is currently about to start True Blood season 4 in the UK when it aired in the US last summer, which is cretinous on its part given the digital age we live in. Nobody wants to wait and in 2012 they don’t have to.
Still, money is made even if ad revenues drop. True Blood has so much associated product, all licensed, it’s as secure financially as the mothers of all cult TV: Doctor Who, Star Trek and, in movie terms, Star Wars. The original author of True Blood continues to make money from her books and the series. The vamps won’t be vanquished just because we no longer have to endure ad breaks.
Big studios cope and, more than that, they still make heaps of money.
Authors, however, especially the self-published whose works are pirated, lose out completely. There is no substantial alternative revenue stream for us. You spend an age crafting a book, sell it for a few quid through digital retailers and it’s pirated. It’s hard enough to make a living as a writer. Piracy of books mean big name authors still make enough money from legit global markets, while new writers find their work pays them nothing while pirates feast on their one novel because there won’t in all likelihood be another to come from the same author because he or she will have hocked the computer and be in line for the soup kitchen.
The same is true of app developers. Bigger operations survive but when £0.69 apps are pirated, how can that be painted as being about freedom?
The Pirate Bay and its kin don’t always ‘sock it to the big greedy guy in a suit’. They further oppress and undermine the poor trying to earn money from their talents and skills. It’s one thing to screw Sony or Fox (I care about people, not corporations) but Joe Bloggs who spent a year writing a book while fending off bills and bailiffs? Not so much a bold paradigm shift as the same old story of parasitical predation upon the people, by the people. The snake eats its own tail and we all end up impoverished in cultural terms.
It’s a war new talent can’t afford to fight and we’re the first in line to take the bullets.
Please don’t pirate the work of independent, small-scale artists and creatives, be they authors or app developers. If you pirate music and TV shows but have money to spend, go see the concerts and buy the T-shirts. For app developers and authors there are no associated, peripheral goodies you can buy into: there is only the work itself. If we don’t get paid, we can’t live off our abilities.
Thank you and, as always, feel free to leave a comment below. If there’s something missing from my argument, some hitherto unknown component that changes everything and ensures we all profit from our labour, as should be a basic human right, let me know. But I don’t think there is.