Friday, July 06, 2007

Piracy is progressive taxation


In 2002 Tim O'Reilly, publisher of an amazing array of technical titles, published an essay: Piracy is progressive taxation. In it he challenged many assumptions about business models in an internet-based digital world.

The essay is a good example of the reality that 'new' is not necessarily the best as it stands a model of clear thinking on the subject. To whet your appetite:
  1. Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.
  2. Piracy is progressive taxation.
  3. Customers want to do the right thing, if they can.
  4. Shoplifting is a bigger threat than piracy.
  5. File sharing networks don't threaten book, music, or film publishing. They threaten existing publishers.
  6. "Free" is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service.
  7. "There's more than one way to do it."
For those of us who are thinking of writing, publishing, distributing digital content over the next few years, this stuff may be useful. Personally, I'd like to make a video teaching people how to use an SUP (Stand Up Paddle) board to flatten their kite surfing learning curve. This may be a bit out of the mainstream, however.

As a 'worked example' of the problem, consider the problems I encountered writing this post. I could find many great photos on flickr and other photo sites, but the good photos I found were all licensed with "all rights reserved." So, I did not use any of them. However, if they had used, for example the license I use on this blog, I could have used them with attribution. Now there is no way I'm going go through the bother of getting rights or paying for a photo on this blog, but I could have provided free advertising for some photographers. Such a shame.
What was accomplished for the photographer? Not much. I can still point you to the photos I wanted to use.