Rant: How to Encourage Piracy

Imagine you’ve just done something of benefit to someone else.  Lets say you’ve put out the trash for your flat.  Which of the following would you like to hear from one of your appreciative flatmates?

  1. “Hey, thanks for putting the trash out.  It’s great you remember to do this even though we’ve all got busy Monday mornings.  I got a voucher for a free coffee last night – you want it?”
  2. “Phew.  If you hadn’t put the trash out this morning me and the others were going to spit in your coffee and bad-mouth you behind your back.  Remember this next time you consider not putting the trash out. “

Unless you are a masochist, I’d guess option 1 is both more attractive and most likely to reinforce your behaviour. Under option 2, putting the trash out becomes even more of a chore.  You’d quickly begin to resent doing it and the incentive to continue would reduce to nil if you suddenly found out your flatmates would have no way of knowing whether you had done it or not.

So what is it with the movie and software anti-piracy groups?  Do they not understand this?  Do they not care?  Or are they simply under the undead control of Sauron-the-lawyer?

Here is a painful clip from 1992 titled “don’t copy that floppy”

(In 2009, an even more painful sequel was released targeting college kids.  Apparently you can make anything cool with ‘the kids’ if you rap it.)

And here is a current clip playing on DVDs in the UK and Australasia.  I think the man featured is supposed to look like Satan.

Both use fear appeals (watch out, terrorists will eat your babies and we’ll take your mom off to prison) and the assumption that people are too stupid to realise piracy only rarely results in punishment for minor offenders.  What is worse is that these appeals are forced on an audience that is already compliant.  It is essentially the same as rewarding an as-yet-undetermined flatmate for putting the trash out by attaching a note  to the bag that looks something like option 2.

I’m quite happy to pay for quality content, but it infuriates me every time I have to sit through one of these anti-piracy propaganda pieces.  In fact, on more than one occasion the thought has gone through my mind that it would be easier to go the piracy route – at least that way I wouldn’t have to watch the anti-piracy dross.

It seems I’m not the only one.

Anti-piracy organisations should be reinforcing purchasing customers, not punishing them.

End of rant.


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