Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Cory Doctorow on the inevitability of piracy

In a short interview conducted at the Tools of Change event, Cory Doctorow argues that piracy, like gravity, is a fact of life that just has to be dealt with:

Piracy

Saying piracy is not acceptable is like saying gravity makes my back hurt. There is a difference between a problem and a fact…You can very firmly believe that it’s incredibly bad for people to pirate things, but there’s no future in which the internet makes it harder to copy. There’s no articulatable theory of reducing piracy on the internet that doesn’t come from someone trying to sell you something.

The difference between facts and problems is facts are things you try to accommodate, problems are things you try to solve.

(Emphasis added.) He’s talking about all piracy, not comics in particular, but his point is very relevant to the current comics scene: The technology that allows people to copy and share work is not going to go away, and therefore it must be dealt with.

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6 Comments

Go, go SOPA/PIPA/CISPA!

That will work. Censor the internet. Look at the music industry. Comic Corporations are too greedy and they are not changing with the times. SEE Blockbuster, Music Industry, HD TV, etc. Comic Corporations started off like Smiegel and are slowly evolving into Gollum.

There *IS* a tool to deal with it: ethics. Something being possible — easy, even — does not make them right.

Ethics is not a tool at all. Its a set of guidelines that in order to be effective has to be agreed upon and acted within. If individuals dont subscribe to it at all then how does it help? Cory is right piracy is a fact…wishing it away with the shaming of “ethics” doesn’t change anything.

Doctorow is spot-on. Since piracy as theft is the dominant analogy, it’s time for publishers and creators to take a lesson from retailers. Major retailers have loss-prevention departments, sure, but they also plan for a certain amount of shrinkage in their inventory. Their strategy acknowledges that theft than be discouraged and occasionally prevented, but it wastes no time pining away for a “what if” world where stealing doesn’t happen. We’ll know content has truly gone digital when there are more specific, serious conversations about coping with piracy than there are about wiping it out.

@Bizzle: “Comic Corporations started off like Smiegel and are slowly evolving into Gollum.”

Ha. Give Men of Tomorrow a read and tell me just how innocent the publishers were in the 1930′s and ’40′s — when their Mafia-affiliated owners decided comic books would be a safer business than softcore porn.

@Roger: “There *IS* a tool to deal with it: ethics. Something being possible — easy, even — does not make them right.”

Yeah, how well has that worked out over the last 3 decades? Has copyright infringement decreased, or increased, during the time that the content industry has focused on lecturing people that downloading a song is unethical?

Hint: there’s this site called YouTube. Lots and lots of people watch videos on it all day long. Many of them do not even consider the possibility that the videos they are watching may not have been posted with permission of the copyright holders.

By all means, educate people on copyright and encourage them to buy from legitimate sources. Hell, that sentence is basically Cory Doctorow’s job description. His argument is that trying to impose legal and technical limitations on people’s computers, trying to make them only read the ones and zeroes that the MPAA and RIAA WANT them to read, simply does not work.

Moreover, Doctorow himself has proven repeatedly that it’s possible to use filesharing to BOOST sales, not inhibit them — he gives all his books away absolutely free under a Creative Commons license, and has still managed to get many of them on the bestseller list. People ARE willing to pay for things they could just get for free.

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