Saturday, January 21, 2012

Big media, SOPA, and the real solution.

A while ago I recall reading a statement from the CEO of Steam and his opinions on game piracy. I believe the man is a true visionary and it is people like him that ought to be put in charge of drafting anti piracy legislations in congress. That or the media corps ought to take a few lessons from him in how to combat piracy because he is one of the few people who believe the way forward is offensive and not defensive.

This may seem like an odd statement given how offensive the media corps are these days. But the reality is that the media corps just appear to be on the offense with their legislative motions like SOPA and PIPA and goodness knows what will come next down that crap line. These acts are really just acts of defense where the media corps want to huddle up in their traditional business models and traditional media formats while lashing out at people each time they see some site pirating stuff come up on the horizon. This is just plain stupid and it’s the reason that the tech community and so many others are standing up against whatever the media corps do to shut down piracy. People want a way forward. Out with the traditional plastic discs. In with digital. But no. Media corps are scared because the new medium is just so much more transferrable and therefore easier to pirate. So they go on the defense and lash out against the digital medium and decide to hole themselves up with their good old fashioned DVD discs. And then they wonder why people rise up against them. It doesn’t even make sense anymore. To say that DVDs are a good form of protection against piracy because they are less transferable is stupid. I could in two hours rip a DVD and share it with my friends if I wanted to. But of course the laws of ripping will stand in my way right? Again. Defensive action. They try to stop the people from ripping DVDs by saying that they can sue them in court for it. The media corps think that putting some kind of code around that will make the DVD format locked out to others. But I’m sorry. That doesn’t work. People want to go digital. They don’t want to be looking at this mountain of discs when they can instead have one 5 TB external hard disk which contains everything. Even more important, with increasing internet speeds, people don’t want to even have the 5 TB hard disks anymore. They would prefer to just be able to stream everything.

But of course the media corps continue to ignore these signs and prefer to stay holed up in their little closed up worlds. As Steve Jobs quite rightly put it, “You guys have got your heads up your asses”. Now what did the CEO of Steam say that clearly showed that he had the right idea? On piracy, all he had to say is that it isn’t about just the game anymore. It’s about the service provided with the game. If a person finds that ordering a game DVD doubles or triples the cost due to shipping costs to his/her country and has a waiting time added to that, then piracy becomes a natural option to turn to. After all, the pirates are providing a better service than the game company themselves. But in the case of Steam, the CEO believes that the Steam platform provides a better service to gamers. Whether this is true or not is debatable but whatever said and done, the man has the right idea. After all, now through Steam I have so much more enabled. I can no download the games like I would a torrent and I can get the game for free. All patches and future updates and expansions become just as easily and readily available. Online gaming with other people becomes easy, leaderboards with friends is automatic and even buying a game level by level becomes possible.

Imagine this with the media corps. What if they put all the effort they are putting into foolish bills like SOPA into making a media platform greater than any other. What if they made a platform where all movies could be streamed with ads or without ads depending on how you wanted to pay for it. Imagine a platform where people from anywhere in the world can no get a movie without having to worry about shipping costs and other unnecessary details like having to deal with storage of physical goods. And imagine a platform where users are automatically connected to fan pages and merchandise, and where buying a movie gets them inside access to behind the scenes and other constantly updated media such as director’s and artist’s notes. When it comes to advertising, people can even start offering advertisements to make the program seem more local. Now when I watch the tv series/movies for free via this new platform I won’t have ads from geico but instead ads from my own country which makes more sense.

This is the kind of stuff people should be thinking about. Not how to stop people from downloading the movies off torrent sites. Media corps need to instead answer the question, “why do people even want to pirate something???” There really aren’t that many thieves in the world. People just want access to something with ease and if the media corps aren’t going to provide that access then they might as well turn towards someone who does. And in this case that someone is, the pirates.

A good example of how media corps can be so stupid comes from CBS and the big bang theory. Today I went online just to check what episodes they have, and it turns out that they have one episode from season 3, 12 and 13. I mean really? And there’s no way I can even pay to watch those online. So what have I got to do? Either buy it from Amazon, or take a trip down to a DVD store and buy a bunch of physical discs I neither want, nor need. Even if I really don’t want to pirate, I all of a sudden don’t care. The pirates provide me with a better service so why should I go to CBS? Defiance sets in. And I give the finger to CBS and go ahead and switch on the torrents to get my episodes from season 1. Good move CBS. Really well played.

‘Nuff said. Get your act together media corps. You’ve shown the world just how much influence and power you have. The world is seeing an unprecedented growth in people wanting to develop stuff to make media more readily available around the world. Use your money and power to grab those developers and set them free to develop a platform like no other. One that enables the world, to become one.

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