Big Content, which has been chasing after pirates with an axe for as long as it realised the internet existed, might have been killing off its chase to make money.
Recent studies have shown that the best online customers for legitimate material are also pirates, but these studies have been played down by Big Content. After all, why would people who download stuff for free bother to buy anything?
The latest study comes from the French enforcement agency who are supposed to knock pirates off the web. HADOPI was set up by the French government in return for the Nation’s pint-sized President Nicolas Sarkozy to get to take his wife to showbiz parties, where he could rub the top of his head against the bottoms of celebrities.
The agency is supposed to take spectral evidence of piracy supplied to them by Big Content and cut off pirates’ internet connections. However, the outfit is also looking at its own operations, and the antics of the pirates. It appears it has not been singing from Big Content’s hymn book with what it found.
Big Content wants your average pirate painted as an evil anarchist who takes time out from raping kittens to stealing copy from poor starving artists, such as Lady Gaga and Bono.
However, the HADOPI report shows that the pirates are the biggest buyers of legitimate content on the web. If Big Content cuts them off from their internet connections then they will lose the biggest buyers of their products.
HADOPI is a little embarrassed by the report and played around with the formatting to make the result difficult to see. However, Joe Karaganis, from SSRC, reformatted the results to make it clear.
He found that seven percent of those surveyed spend over 100 euros per month on cultural goods on the internet. Among these, 64 percent admit to ‘illicit use’ or filesharing. Of those, 17 percent spend 31-99 euros per month. Among these, 57 percent admit to illicit use.
Among those who spend nothing, only about 36 percent are pirates.
Karaganis suggests HADOPI’s method of threatening people to stop their file sharing won’t do very much to help the bottom lines of the entertainment industry:
He said that if piracy is a sampling and discovery tool for high spenders, then suppressing piracy could depress legal sales.
It also means that, once again, Big Content is failing to see the bigger picture. It is the technically literate who will be the first to buy their products. Rather than see that piracy is a symptom of the industry not having its act together, or peddling goods such as Justin Bieber, it should have seen it as people using the technology it needed to develop for itself.
Currently it is actively encouraging governments to ban its best customers from their stores.
With business decisions like that, one has to question how long Big Content will last.