All of the recent anti-piracy legislation’s seem to have put the tech community at odds with the content community. Major entertainment industries like Hollywood and the music industry have a right to protect their content and profit off of it.
However suing your customer is not a winning business strategy and suing the sites that provide the unauthorised distribution of content is proving to be difficult.
If Hollywood and other related industries really want to reduce internet piracy, then they need to innovate.
There are ways to compete with free if you give your customers what they want in a convenient, affordable, and timely manner.
Here are just a few ideas about what the video game industry, software industry, music industry, Hollywood and more could do to solve their piracy problems.
The Good: The video game industry has done a good job of finding new customers in nearly all demographic categories. A record number of people are playing video games on a variety of different platforms and some games are doing really well. For example, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 broke the same record it set the previous year and produced $1 billion dollars of sales 16 days after the game was released.
The Problem: However that didn't aid video game sales as game sales were down 21 per cent in December. This could be because major gaming consoles are near the end of their life cycle but either way the video game industry was surprised at the drop in sales and at least a little bit worried.
- Continue to deliver more and more games through digital subscription services like GameFly. However, reduce the wait on new titles and have them arrive in my mailbox faster.
- $60 dollars for a video game that can be beaten in a week or less is expensive. Find a way to lower the production costs in your value chain so that you can lower the costs of video games without sacrificing value. I know this seems like a tall order but consider this: the most pirated video games of 2011 were also highly anticipated titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. The fact that people are buying the pirated version may signal that the cost is out of reach for what you get.
- Or let users buy different versions of the game. Some versions of games could come with a bare version, others with enhanced features. Follow the Sims model of buying the base package and then having the option to add extra expansion packs to the game that open up new gameplay options.
The Good: Whether a movie is considered good or not is subjective, but we think it's safe to say that people will always love to watch movies.
The Problem: Honestly, where do we start? First, Roger Ebert was right to criticise the movie going experience. It has been awful for as long as we can remember. The rising ticket costs, over priced concessions, annoying teens, and people on their phones are all reasons to avoid the movie theatres at any costs. Add to that the fact that you don't even know if a movie will be any good and you may have suffered at the theatre for no good reason.
That may explain why more and more people are waiting for the DVD release of films to see them but that doesn't explain the pirated distribution of movies. A lot of movie content is pirated because there are no other convenient or affordable options for users.
- We like GIGAOM writer Ryan Lawler's idea to create a Hulu like service that streams movies over an internet connection. The service could be free with ads or users could sign up for monthly subscriptions that allow them to access either a set or unlimited number of movies a month.
- Another of Lawler's ideas: Since indie films are hard to find in the theatres, consider streaming more of indie (and other new release movie titles) on demand for half the price of a movie ticket.
Comic book publishers need to publish more of their content digitally, and they need to do it faster.
The Good: If we can take a record turnout at this years New York Comic Con as a sign, comic books still are, and perhaps forever will be popular. Furthermore, comic book publishers are finally starting to understand the needs and desires of their customers by allowing their content to be published digitally thanks to the likes of apps like comiXology.
The Problem: It is essential that comic books find a way to go digital. Brick and Mortar comic book stores are closing their doors left and right and major comic book publishers have been slow to make the full transition. A lot of readers don't feel like they have any choice but to go the pirated route.
- Upload more content from more publishers digitally to apps like comiXology and do it faster. If the comic book industry wants to compete with free websites they need to compete with them by striking at their weaknesses. Sites that offer pirated comic book content are ideal because they let readers find out what happens next much faster than waiting for the paper form (especially in the case of international comic books like mangas). However, they often have inaccurate subtitles or blurry images from bad scan jobs.
- Allow users to access an unlimited amount of content for a monthly price. No one wants to pay $15.00 for a 60 page (or less) picture book. Even 4.99 for 17 pages seems excessive. A low monthly fee automatically deducted from an account saves hassle and helps you gain readership.
- Make the first comic book in a series free. A lot of publishers like VIZ Media, who has released some of their content on their app, already do this. Others should follow suit.
The Good: There are no signs that people no longer want to read books. They just want to buy them in different ways.
The Bad: Despite the many ways to buy books at brick and mortar stores as well as ordered online or in digital form, the piracy of books continues. Considering The Help was the most pirated book of 2011, it doesn't seem like it's just teens who are engaging in these behaviours.
- Give people more incentive to buy the paper version of books by enhancing the experience of buying the paper version of books. One way to do this would be to offer access to social media sites dedicated to fans of a book like pottermore. Even just a bookmark or some discount on the next purchase of a book could go a long way to sway people to actually buy the book.
- Find a way to reduce the price of e-books. Right now, e-books are not much cheaper than paper copies and it's curious as to why.
The Good: Software like Apple's Final Cut X and Adobe's Creative Suite 5 are the standard for creative types in fields like filmaking and graphic design. Software is allowing us to do more and with more power than ever before.
The Problem: Software is among the most pirated goods for obvious reasons. Good software is often expensive despite how powerful it may be. One common way for software to be pirated is for a business to buy one version of software and then download it on multiple computers. Another is for users to simply purchase software at a reduced rate through piracy channels or simply download the software for free.
- Create different versions of software products to meet different needs. Price them accordingly.
- Offer steep student discounts. Students often need to use various software programs to do their homework and work on final projects. This is also a good way to create loyal customers as they will be learning on this software.
The Good: Luxury fashion retailers have done a great job of finding creative ways to reach the masses. Karl Lagerfeld, the genius behind French fashion house Chanel recently designed a line for Macy's. Jason Wu is next up to design a line for Target. Brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs and Kors by Micheal Kors offer designer quality for a fraction of the cost.
The Problem: The counterfeit items are often for replicas of bags and other items (often accessories) that people otherwise can't afford. Customers want the real thing, not the designed to be discounted version and that's why they turn to counterfeit items.
- Luxury bags go vintage not old. Encourage the resale of previously worn bags at reasonable prices.
- Take a cue from designers like Micheal Kors and design iconic bags at a fraction of the price and sell them at Macy's and Nordstroms and not Target.
Domestic companies should partner with international media content providers to reach a larger audience.
The Good: International Media content like books, movies, t.v. shows, comic books, and video games are a major source of pirated content; both for the U.S. and overseas companies. The good news here is that people clearly want access to international content.
The Problem: The process to actually deliver this content in a legal manner takes way too long. Illegal sites can have subbed episodes of international t.v. shows far faster than legal ones can.
- The iTunes store and other legal music distribution services need to carry more international songs.
- Television, movie, and other content distributors should partner with, not shut down websites that are subbing media content. These sites have an impressive ability to completely sub an episode within days, if not hours of the episode appearing. Hulu has done this with their entertainment beyond borders program.
- Release the subbed version of content at the same time as you release the domestic one.
The Good: The music industry has come a long way since the days it shut down Napster. Now with the likes of iTunes, Spotify, and other music sites users are no longer forced to buy an artists entire CD and piracy in the music industry is on the decline.
The Bad: $1.29 for popular songs from iTunes isn't swaying everyone; about 23% of music downloaded online is still pirated. Add to that the fact that record companies aren't convinced they can maximise their profits with digital streaming music services and we still end up with the problem we started with.
- Streaming music sites are a huge success with customers. If record labels aren't convinced they are winning with web applications like Spotify then they should create their own music streaming applications and use them to sell digital music and promote their artists.
Cable companies should let users choose how many channels they want to access and charge them accordingly.
The Good: Many popular television shows have found ways to reach more viewers by streaming their content online for free.
The Bad: When I say television, I mostly mean premium cable television. That accounts for a majority of what is downloaded illegally. TV shows like Showtime's Dexter and HBO's Game of Thrones accounted for some of the most popular pirated tv shows of 2011. Curiously, so did shows like House and Glee, which are available to view free at the show's network website. However, a closer look at Glee's website shows one possible reason for why the show is pirated even though episodes are streamed online. New episodes are not available until 8 days after the original air date.
- Uploading recent episodes to free and legal streaming video sites like Hulu or those that are owned by the network is great, but do it immediately after the episode airs. Do not wait more than 24-48 hours to post a new episode.
- Stop uploading episodes of new TV shows to iTunes. It's annoying to pay for one episode and it takes too long to download the episode.
- Premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime should allow internet users to subscribe to them online so we can view new episodes of a show. Let us chose how many and which shows we want to watch and only charge us for those shows.
- Cable content is still desirable as broadband needs to be improved but the cost keeps it out of reach for many. Create new cable packages that let users choose how many channels they can order and also which channels they want.
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