With the current media frenzy regarding SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA, it is difficult to wonder what the future of the Internet will be. Although I hope none of these policies pass, if they did, I think fellow Internet surfers would find their way around these laws and still share content. In the end, the only people who will suffer are the mainstream users, who are not as computer savvy to bypass these restrictions or are too afraid to do so. The big content corporations are still going to lose money due to the increase in digitalisation of content. Right now, governments and business are losing their time with legislation instead coming up with solutions.
The music industry was one of the first hit by the Internet and the increase of “piracy” (I had to put quotation marks, as it’s just ridiculous that sharing is considered piracy in this day and age). With their profits being squeezed, and their record sales plummeting, they have now embraced the digital age and started exploring new business models. Today, there are various subscription services that have proven to be successful (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and they are also making their money on merchandise and events. In other words, they have finally realised that they should stop fighting the current and embrace it for their own benefit.
Now, other entertainment media are struggling, especially the video, movie/TV show and publishing businesses. So far, they have focused on fighting piracy. However, we are humans, we like to share our experiences and things we like. Sharing is not stealing: it is spreading the word about things we enjoy. The Internet facilitates this word of mouth, which entertainment companies could explore to increase their audience.
Of course, making money out of other people’s work is not right. However, the people who are making money from sharing will continue to do so, regardless of the laws. What companies should be doing is make the illegal business just not worth it. That is, make the content easily available, make piracy not worth it for the consumer. That way people will be more inclined to buy the original version instead of going the extra mile to get an illegal version. Between buying a pirated CD and the real thing, nobody would prefer the pirated one, unless it was either cheaper or easier to get.
Thus, companies supporting these stupid policies, this is an appeal to you. Stop fighting against the very thing that makes the Internet so great and go put your brains together to come up with a better way to make your money. I’m sure that when you do, you will be making much more than you do now, and people will actually be on your side instead of waiting to hack your systems and revolt against you. The world will always change; you can’t expect your old business models to work forever. So stop complaining and start working on the future of digital business! I’m definitely excited to know what you will come up with.