My good buddy Eric AKA @Schultzter sent me this comic as an @reply on Twitter this morning probably as some sort of jibe over the fact that Steve McGoo (@mtl_steve) and I have gone a little gaga over the new AppleTV and the recent introduction of Netflix.ca with its too good to pass up $7.99 price tag. The comic strip is a little funny but not at all untrue, in fact there is nothing wrong with it except that it’s quite an old argument that Steve Jobs himself made when he first introduced the iTunes Music Store in 2003. In fact it was one of the founding arguments in winning over the record labels. If you make it so simple and easy to buy good music with one click purchasing and a nice low price then you will effectively remove the urge to try to get that song elsewhere. Also if your catalogue of songs is not big enough, or you delay the release of new track you will push the music mavens to go looking for it elsewhere. When we were younger it would have been by giving a cassette to that guy who gets all the new stuff at Dutchies in Montreal or we would even risk bad audio quality by recording it off the radio just so we could listen right to it right away.
Fast forward to the Internet age we live in and the “kids” don’t need the Dutchies Record Cave and they sure as hell don’t listen to the radio anymore either. They simply get their new tracks from the easiest place possible: LimeWire and the Torrents. Even though this might be a little more work and you really don’t know what you are going to get. You might not find a good quality rip, it might be a live version, or a bad remix; then you will have to seed or share the track so you can keep up the good rating and benefit from good download rates. Just like when the guy who used to let you rip his CD’s all the time suddenly stopped because you never brought new music to the mix yourself.
Piracy and self appropriation is a labour, sometimes intensive in time sometimes expensive in hardware. And at the end of the day all we want is to hear new tracks and now watch the latest movies. DRM and other copy protection simply made this a little more difficult but anyone with the right tools could very easily get around them and if you owned multiple media players like an iPod and another MP3 player you were more likely to go to these lengths. As you might not even be able to listen to that same track on all those devices and this was the main reason to continue piracy long after the fact that you could now afford to buy your own stuff on iTunes or Amazon Music (for the Yanks). How the record and movie industry ever thought that asking the same person to pay for the same thing over and over I will never understand. DVD’s are fragile and Blue Rays even more so, who in their right mind lets a 4 or 5 years old man handle shiny little plastic things that cost up to $30 a pop. The digital format and streaming are definitely the way to go with tykes in the house. No more scratching, breaking or even loss because they took with them somewhere in the house.
I totally bought into this a while ago when we stopped going to BlockBuster and started renting iTunes movies to watch on our old MacMini that was plugged into the TV. In fact we even went a little crazy and ripped them all our DVD’s to the external hard drive so we could get access to the movies faster and preserve the originals. We now have Netflix for the Wii so its even easier to start watching a pretty good catalogue of movies and TV shows without ever leaving the house or paying late fees. And trust me, taking four kids to the Videorama to choose one movie was never an easy task. Lazy and Easy at a good price is SO much better than Free/Pirated and Labour Intensive. Especially when the kids start asking you what piracy means, One more cool feature of Netflix, I will never have to sit through another FBI warning accusing me of being a thief again. I’m not even American, what the hell do I care what the FBI thinks of me.