Speaking about the music or movie industries without mentioning BitTorrenting and piracy seems practically impossible.
The awkward truth: “Piracy is not so popular because people like to steal — it’s because it provides a better service model.” — Matt Mason.
Today, our pirates have changed gold and diamonds by mp3, divx or mpeg files. But our pirates, like the old ones, have no intention of destabilizing the system.
And, if by now you are wondering what the heck is a BitTorrent, that’s ok. I have jumped a little ahead, so here is a quick explanation of all you need to know before reading this post.
Internet vs. Traditional Industry
The most important data in these times comes from the Internet. The network has provided new ways of distributing content, whether for free or for payment.
Today’s audiences, for both movies and music, have revolutionized their traditional way of thinking. The viewer does want to have it all and now, not in a few months when it’s on DVD or cable — and if possible for free.
When a market changes, a part of the traditional system sinks and eventually disappears, giving way to other forms of exploitation. It is something that has always happened, and will happen for many more years.
So what happens to the industry? Well, the industry needs to begin by changing their classical minds, and then adapt. Or die (In memoriam to Blockbuster Inc.).
Major Impact and Numbers
As you can imagine, calculating losses for online tv and film piracy is a difficult task, since piracy is not often talked about in the media anymore. Why so? Probably because controlling illegal downloads is so overwhelming that governments can’t possibly do something about it —Still a big problem and better not to mention.
When they can’t pass laws directly, they resort to international trade agreements, like the TPP. And it seems none of it works.
Sure, when a new law first goes into effect there may be an initial, short-term decrease in piracy rates, but it doesn’t last for more than a few months, as people quickly go back to finding ways to access the content they want —A repeated cycle since BitTorrent birth.
In a latest report called The Carrot or The Stick? It compares the attempts to strengthen the application of piracy against the simple fact of allowing more innovation and the impact that both have had on piracy rates in different countries —All I do know for sure is that the pirate marketplace currently dwarfs the legal marketplace – by far.
In a nutshell, if we only focus on music royalties and consider a very conservative estimate of 10% loss due to piracy annually, it would be the equivalent to e. g. Taylor Swift losing at least $17 million of the $170 million she made last year.
—And this is just one person of the industry, so the rest of the story is told by itself.
However, illegal downloads should not be seen only as something that produces losses, but as something that gives us to understand the shortcomings and problems of a market that is changing at a very fast pace.
So has piracy affected the movie or music industry? Of course there’s an impact, but I think it also depends from which side or perspective you see.
Despite the proliferation of legal music sources like Spotify and Apple Music, record labels are still making a fuss over downloading and surfing media content online.
That makes me think there’s always more of interest about the companies themselves —because of their incapacity of remaking the game and playing new strategy cards— and it’s not actually about their consumers, which just desire more and meaningful ways to connect to their favorite artists.
Some time ago, Disney merged with the famous Pixar, owned by Steve Jobs and Apple. These are the creators of the most famous recent online store: iTunes Music Store. The strategy and the attitude of Disney shows that something is happening and you have to adapt to it to keep going somehow. Another great example is Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke and his recent BitTorrent release.
Final Thoughts on TV and Film Piracy
So in my opinion, what matters here is what the fans demand. I’m sure neither we nor the pirates are destroying the media industry, furthermore it is a warning alarm that ring ‘times have changed’ and so it demands flexibility to please the crowds.
The public itself will not let the industry die, as they will keep consuming music and cinema, its just the future needs to get creative by feeding the Millennials wants.