Why Geolocation and Other Content Controls Contribute to Piracy

I’m an artist.  When I decided it was time to expand on that I took a hard look at my collection of music and deleted 90% of it.

Why?   I’m sad to admit that most of it was pirated.    I’ve since gone out and repurchased most of what I deleted and more.   I have a strict policy of purchasing any music I download now,  even though it sometimes means sending money to Apple…a company I despise.

I no longer subscribe to cable preferring to get all my television content online. Its hard staying on the side of the angels when it comes to online content.

Netflix Canada is notoriously short on content when you compare it to the US version.   I’ve recently discovered that when connecting to Netflix Canada through my Boxee Box (a device which I use to watch television) that the content available there isn’t close to what’s available if I connect through my computer (same account,  same Netflix).

I’m told that this is because of the inability to reach deals with Canadian copyright holders.

Similar issues revolve around the availability of streaming music services like Pandora.   If I recall correctly Canadian copyright holders wanted too much money for Pandora to operate in Canada.

I’m going to be blunt here and tell you that this is a clear indication that, if  these reasons are indeed true, that the aforementioned Canadian Copyright Holders are either extremely shortsighted or complete blithering idiots (or perhaps both).

There are several reasons for this.

For the first,  let me use Pandora as an example.   Someone I’m very close to uses a US VPN service (so that websites he connects to thinks he’s an American connecting from the US) to listen to Pandora.  With Pandora you plug in an artists name, or a type of music and it plays not only that artist,  but similar ones.

Several times my friend has gone, “EUREKA!!!!  WHO THE HECK IS THAT?!”  and been so enamored that he ran off to Puretracks. ca to buy music from an artist he’s never heard of.

So,  by not coming to an agreement with music streaming services,   Canadian Copyright Holders are actually losing money.    Services like Pandora are like advertising.

Reason #2.

Even people who are willing to pay for content get extremely frustrated by the lack of availability in Canada.

Most networks in Canada give you the ability to go to their websites and watch first run shows for free (albeit you have to suffer through ads (often the same one, over and over and over again).

There’s a catch though.   If you miss  show or two,  well you’ve missed it for good because shows are only available for a couple-3 weeks.

But wait!  There are these things called Torrents…which allow you to download ENTIRE SEASONS of shows!   If the show is popular and you’ve a decent internet connection you can pull down an entire season of a show in less than an hour (not that I would know anything about that….but I’ve heard its true).

Piracy isn’t going away.   Anyone who thinks you can regulate it,  or police it effectively is dreaming.

There are many people who would prefer to access their entertainment legally,  but are stymied at every turn by those seeking to protect their bottom-line.   Or maybe its the bottom line of the cable companies?     Many of these people do not just throw up their hands and say, “Oh my, I will never get to see that show!”.    They load up their Torrent client and download it…for free.

Cable companies,  for many of us,  are just plain unpalatable.  When I cut the cord with Rogers I was paying over $100 a month for their VIP package.   I watched maybe 5 stations (including the movie network,  which is what cost me so much money……I had to take a bunch of channels I wasn’t interested in to get it).   Unfortunately  there are no other cable companies servicing my area…so I do without cable.

I would propose that copyright holders learn to embrace the new technology and set up a system where users can access first run television,  legally,  online at a fair price without having to be held hostage by cable companies.
I would further propose that copyright holders get their collective heads out of their asses when it comes to a service like Pandora.   Make nice,  come up with a palatable and serviceable agreement  with the understanding that people like me will listen,  will discover new acts and go out and PURCHASE music,  and concert tickets.

Everyone knows I’m a rabid Florence and the Machine fan.   My friend who turned me onto her discovered her through (/drumroll)   Pandora… so not only has she (my friend) run out and purchased everything Flo,  but so have I,  and have a couple of people I’ve turned onto her music.

While there will always be people unwilling to pay a single penny for someone else’s work,  I still believe the answer to piracy is not increasingly intrusive and draconian legislation,  but rather broader access at fair and reasonable prices.


4 thoughts on “Why Geolocation and Other Content Controls Contribute to Piracy

  1. I didn’t realize that the US and Canadian versions of Netflix, Pandora, and other programs were so different! I think of the internet as being global so it surprises me – don’t get me wrong, I understand why there is a “UK” Amazon, etc. of course but we do after all share the same bloody continent so… um? Curious… I agree that these companies are losing some serious business – almost ALL (95% +) of my music is purchased as a direct result of listening to Pandora – like Flo & Machine (who I get to see in concert in a couple of months!) so yeah… Fail.

    1. We don’t get Pandora at all because of the rates the licensing company up here wants (45% of GROSS revenues).

      You see Flo every couple of months??! /jealous

      I’ve seen her once in Toronto (and met her!). Amazing performance

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