Thursday, November 27, 2008

AARRR, me matey!

The other evening, the geeks at the dinner table started talking about the "faux pas" of admitting to work colleagues, "I download". They were getting dirty looks, and treated like low-life convicts who should be shipped off to an island infested with poisonous snakes and spiders which feast on birds *grin* Well, not quite, but the gist of the story was, don't admit it because the activity is frowned upon by the public and by artists. You dirty downloader, you.

Eh? Really? I talk about downloading all the time. I explain to anyone who wants to know what torrents are. I give recommendations on what to watch. I tell people immediately when I've seen a great movie. I don't get the dirty looks.

Here's why I think downloading has been "good
for everyone":
* I would never see the film otherwise. Torrents make obscure, cult classics, foreign, arthouse films easily available.
* Downloading doesn't stop people from buying. I remember reading about the outcome of a study done in Japan. Regardless of the high rate of downloads, music sales still went UP. People are still BUYING music.
* I still buy DVDs, CDs and MP3s. Freaking hell, it all adds to the mess underneath my bed. I hate buying shit because it takes up space I don't have, but I still do it. MP3s less so because of all the DRM it comes wrapped in. Saying that, I just bought The Whitlams' album on iTunes last week cause I couldn't find "Thank you (for loving me at my worse)" easily. (Yeah, I know, I can't believe I'm listening to The Whitlams either)
* I still buy good software. My copy of OS X is an original. It's underneath my bed with the rest of my crap.
* I still buy movie tickets. In fact, I chuckled when I read this TechDirt article. Dark Knight, despite being the "most pirated film of 2008", is also likely to be the "biggest grossing film of the year". The bit that got me chuckling though, was this line in TechDirt:
" such a scenario, you could even make the argument that the more people saw the movie in download format, the more willing they would be to go pay to see the IMAX version, to get the full experience".

Because that is *exactly* what happened with me. I was about 5 mins into the movie on my MBP, when I hit pause, and thought, "Fck it, I gotta go see this at IMAX!". Cost me £12.50, the only session I could get was 11:30pm, and I got home around 2am - still, I'm glad I watched Dark Knight at IMAX.

That evening at dinner, I was hit with the comment, "That's just you". Implying, I am one of the rare who downloads and still buys. This proves it - It's not just me. Granted, not everyone splashes the cash after downloading, but enough people do it to still make a huge positive impact on the industry.

Downloading is a distribution model that's frowned upon because people don't see the potential of the technology behind it, and don't know how to make money off it. Because that's what it comes down to. Do you think record or movie companies would be so pissy if they were getting a cut? If artists were willing to go out on a limb and ask their fans to "pay what you think it's worth" for an album download, do you think they're going to go broke, or make more money?

Ask Radiohead, because that's exactly what they did with their last album. Ask Underworld who have been broadcasting their gigs live for awhile now. Ask NIN who offered fans a free download of their latest album (as soon as I found this out, I alerted a NIN-fan friend of mine), and different price packages for the limited edition release. Ask Lily Allen who started out by posting demos on MySpace.

I'm not saying that downloading isn't stealing. I'm saying downloading opens up a brand new world, to a brand new audience. So don't be such a hater about it *grin* For all the noise you hear about downloading media being bad, to my knowledge no kittens have been punished yet :P You just never hear about the good.

To be honest, these days when I download music, it comes free anyway. Courtesy of DJs who have caught on to podcasting :) Those podcasts are responsible for making me leave the country to attend their gigs. Tell me how this isn't helping the artist?

Btw, here's Monty Python's take on things :)

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