Alternatives to SOPA that people might actually like

Most people can agree SOPA is bad, or at the least would end up doing more accidental harm than good, right? The DMCA had the right idea and if it were used as written even though I disagree with how much power it gives corporations over consumers it’s not inherently bad but is, instead, often times misused or is used in such a way that Joe or Jane consumer can’t use it to defend themselves when they’re getting stomped on due to how ‘he who can pay the most legal fees wins’ works.

The thing of it is I can understand, at least I think, what the perspective of the corporations are. Here’s these people they see torrenting and sharing things, posting stuff on youtube or streaming so their buddies can have copies without paying and it’s costing them money. How do you stop this? I may not like Jack Valenti, and trust me I don’t, but his ‘hollywood is like a poor defenseless woman alone at night’ rhetoric gives a good view into the mindset of these people.

Technology scares them.

I’m not just talking about torrenting, or even mixtapes. I’m talking whenever any new technology has come out ‘artist associations’ flip out and go to Congress with cap in hand asking ‘Please sir can you smack these people for us so we can eat?’ There’s legal hand wringing, crying, moaning, and then Hollywood the MPAA or whoever figures out how to take advantage of the new technology or at the very least realizes it’s time to shut up because the sky hasn’t fallen.

Let’s be clear on something; I think copyright in general needs to be torn down and rebuilt to make things just a little fairer. I’m not just talking the DMCA or how corporations seem to get away with false takedowns of material but never seem to get punished because the burden of proof is on the accused. Instead in a perfect world the whole system would be looked at and discussed and then the terms of copyright would be shifted to reflect how people and corporations in the real world work instead of ‘horde everything because it might be used at some point eighty years down the road.’

This is unlikely to happen for all sorts of reasons so I’m not even going to detail my ‘Ten Years then You Have to Keep Paying into the Pot’ plan. Instead let’s look at some options the entertainment big-wigs need to look at and try finding a way to embrace more fully.

Elephant in the room time; Steam. Is it perfect? No. However it is what I see as a good starting point. Originally it wouldn’t let you do anything without an internet connection. Now it either doesn’t need a connection once you have things saved locally or only needs to call home once in a blue moon. It runs on Linux (sadly the linux client doesn’t have much to offer yet, but that will change in time) Mac, and has programs in place for indie developers to try wedging in to take advantage of a gargantuan market. Where Steam’s strongest point is that they have all sorts of sales. Granted that means looking away from ‘Oh Crap we’re going to make so much less money per unit’ and instead look towards ‘We made a five thousand percent profit increase because we have that many more customers buying Our Stuff.’

Personally I like Good Old Games better since they offer many of the same games Steam does, but without having to worry about any sort of online checks at all, or a program running in the background that takes up memory, or someone somewhere not liking the mod you’re running and Zot. Granted you lose out on community functions but not everyone wants community. Some people just want their Game with no real strings attached. I’m glad this option exists since if Steam was the only player in town then we might still need a full time connection even for single player games, and we don’t have to look past Sim City 5 to see how stupid that can be.

Another example of how things could be run is Hulu. They have a free service that runs from your browser that lets you watch TV. They make money, much like with TV, by playing commercials and having some programming you have to pay for (like all those soap operas that got canceled and got picked up.) It is, in theory, a great service. Go Here and get your TV when you want to watch it. I’d pay money for that. Amazon offers a similar service as do other players. The trouble is we need to have a place where you can get lots of channels/programming without having to install eighty seven different ‘apps’ on your smart TV/browser/whatever. I’ll get into why later, but Hulu/Amazon Prime/etc are in theory quite nice.

As of right now Cable companies see this as an intrusion into their supposed core market. On the one hand I can sort of see why they would be upset since fewer people watching cable means fewer people watching Sports Programming, and that’s what they see as their big money maker. On the other give us a good connection with proper customer support and people wouldn’t mind the costs. As is you get outages, random slowdowns, cable providers trying to block municipal attempts at fiber, and other stunts that pretty well burn good will like so much gasoline thrown into a bond fire.

Piracy is a Service Problem.

Gabe Newell of Valve has said this, and I agree with these words.Some kid torrenting Minecraft, or Battlefield of Duty Black Ops Edition 12 even with options like Steam, or GoG, or Whatever does not necessarily represent a lost sale.

If that kid, and I’m going to assume kid since when the RIAA will sue a twelve year old girl for hundreds of thousands of dollars I want that image to stick, is not going to buy what you’re offering no matter how easy you make it for them to obtain they are not and never will be a customer. Do not factor them into your quarterly report.

On the other hand if, like Wizards of the Coast, you pull products from legal distribution because you’re afraid somebody somewhere is going to make copies then you are effectively saying ‘I want piracy to exist since I’m removing easy legal means to have my things get into the customer’s hands.’ For the record the 4th ed piracy ‘situation’ was because someone leaked the layout files, meaning WotC had an internal problem. Yet instead of address that and move on they pulled all of their legal to buy PDF’s from their site, DriveThruRPG, and other easy to use sites.

This is a case of shooting yourself in the foot with a rocket launcher. Now, because legal means do not exist, people have no choice but to pirate. So you go from ‘well people are downloading my product but I’m still selling material.’ to ‘I don’t have material to sell that is of known good quality without some asshat putting a virus in the bundle to tempt people away from free downloads.’

In Closing:

  • Make your product easy to get and of a known good quality and most
    people would rather pay money than risk their computer getting nuked.
  • Treat your customers like people instead of thieves or temporary
    holders of your money and they will like you enough to not download
    out of spite.
  • In case the first point wasn’t clear; Make Things Hassle Free. I
    don’t want to have to download this one plugin, or deal with that
    piece of DRM that sucks half my ram away, and I especially don’t want
    to have to be online if I don’t have to be since sadly America does
    not have great internet service.
  • Ignore people that never would have bought your product and do not
    use them as an excuse to not try out new technologies that can make
    you richer than Nations. Seriously, as of a couple years ago Apple
    was worth more money than the yearly budget for the United States.

Original Article can be found Here.

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