Jonathan Taplin: How Piracy is Killing the Content Economy

Media Scholar and Producer
Free always wins over something that costs something.
  • Transcript


Jonathan Taplin: Well, I would argue that piracy is problematic.  I come at it from a very simple way.  If you look at the music business, pretty much every piece of content in the world is available legitimately. Whether it's through iTunes or Spotify or anything else, all of which you have to pay some money, it's not a lot, but it's some money.  And yet still the amount of piracy out there is huge in the music business, which says to me that free can never, you know, free always wins over something that costs something.  The second problem I have is that much of piracy is ad supported.  So Pirate Bay or most of the big pirate sites are supported by advertising.

So the history of the media business is always that advertising was the support for making content.  When Procter & Gamble put money into making soap operas, it was literally to pay for the content, the advertising paid for the content.  The problem with Pirate Bay, or any of the big pirate sites that take in millions of dollars of advertising is none of that money ever goes back into paying for content.  So in that sense they're not recirculating the money to build the content economy.  And ultimately if all the advertising money moved from legitimate to pirate, then there would be no content economy whatsoever.

Whether we can overcome that is really a matter of decision on the part of advertisers.  Do they want to be on these pirate sites or do they want to support Spotify?  Do they want to be supporting, you know, illegal content or do they want to support legal content.  And that will make the final decision.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton