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Piracy is No One's Friend

October 30, 2013, 12:00 AM
Shutterstock_66585517

"Piracy Is Your Friend" proclaimed one of the Web's early pioneers, Jaron Lanier, in 1999. 

At the time, Lanier believed the Web would increase business opportunities for writers and artists. Eight years later Lanier admitted he was wrong - very wrong.

"There’s an almost religious belief in the Valley that charging for content is bad," Lanier wrote in The New York Times in 2007. "How long must creative people wait for the Web’s new wealth to find a path to their doors?"

They're still waiting. 

In the meantime, the number of online consumers of content continues to grow at an extraordinary rate. And yet, this increased connectivity doesn't mean equal increases in revenue. 

As Jonathan Taplan, director of the Innovation Lab at USC Annenberg, points out: 

What's happening is that even though these platforms are exploding and the Internet has grown nine times in the last five years, the media entertainment revenues are barely growing above inflation.  

The problem is that "free always wins over something that costs something," Taplin tells Big Think in a recent interview. People get their content through Hulu, Netflix and "quite honestly," Taplin says, "they steal it from pirate sites."

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

More from the Big Idea for Wednesday, October 30 2013

Digital Piracy

We run the risk of creating an economy that doesn’t support human contributors, Jaron Lanier and other critics of Web 2.0 have argued. In today's lesson, we look at how structural problems that... Read More…

 

Piracy is No One's Friend

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