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It’s the Freedom, Stupid

February 18, 2010

This chart pretty well sums up why piracy is widespread: it’s the freedom, stupid.

It’s all about the freedom of the content (not necessarily the free price).  If you need more anecdotal proof, think about how much more willing you are to buy a song on iTunes than to search for an album in a physical store or even through peer-to-peer networking.

The simple fact of the digital world is that digital media can always be repurposed and freed.  Commercials can be stripped out, playback options can be expanded, and the freed media can be reproduced.  If the human brain can process the information, its encryption or digital rights management can be removed because a machine will necessarily be able to perceive and collect the information if it is able to play it back.

Pull beats push. By definition, people want to be able to do whatever they want with their media.  And they will do whatever they need to free their media for unlimited use and consumption if the costs are low enough (again, see the iTunes Plus pricing discrimination in effect).  When you add the Internet into the equation, the functionality that everyone wants becomes free (as in price) to anyone who wants it as soon as one person figures out how to do it for themselves (or for anyone else for that matter).

The lesson: if media owners start offering really convenient and free media, maybe they can charge a buck a pop on the first run, without forcing people to find their own solutions.  Capitalizing on laziness can beat piracy because delivery beats pull.

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