Pirates: the good guys, the victors, and readying a new offensive?

June 29, 2009

Having the increasingly tired conversation about whether the music industry stands a chance (it doesn’t), and wrote up this response for why the problems that do exist in pirate tools are pretty insignificant compared to the alternatives:

“All those problems [incomplete catalogue, fake files, bad tagging, variable sound quality, porn ads, ISP throttling, the risk of being sued, guilt, etc.] are real, no doubt.  But let’s not forget: despite those problems, pirates still own 95% of the music download market.  Don’t you think if pirates really cared to deal with any of those problems (better than they already do), they could?

Indeed, don’t you think those problems are pretty trivial compared to the vastly more substantial problems (that you fail to list) of dealing with the cartels?  Namely: crippling fees for companies, unreasonably high fees for users, and the occasional licensing turf war that wipes out all users outside of the United States?

Thanks to technology: music is now bits, and bits are now infinite.  These are revolutionary facts.  Why is it so hard to accept that this revolution is like any other: those in power suffer while a new power emerges.  This is such obvious stuff, I don’t know how we’re still debating it so many years *after* the revolution ended.

I mean, for a moment imagine the pirates are the good guys in this battle.  Imagine you’re one of them, and you’ve already secured 95% of your terrain (eg, the global music download market), and are only dealing with the occasional isolated incident from rogue terrorist outfits (eg, RIAA vs Jamie Thomas-Rasset) or settling regional disputes (three strikes laws, lawsuits against TPB).  Sure the pirates could improve their interfaces.  And surely they are improving.  But where’s the rush?  Wouldn’t you think the war had been won long ago?

If anything, I bet they’re more interested preparing an offensive push into new terrain: the global music streaming market.  And if stupid things like Pandora needing to shut down its international userbase — creating a global demand for something that there is no legitimate way to buy — then they’ll have no harder time winning and holding that terrain than they have music downloads.



2 Responses to “Pirates: the good guys, the victors, and readying a new offensive?”

  1. Eric Says:

    Where do you get your "95%" figure?

  2. Nobody has the real number, but you can check out my recent roundup of relevant data.

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