There is no such thing as ‘piracy’ Part 1

This post became so long that I divided it between two separate posts. This first post attempts to explain that the MPAA/RIAA are good at hiding money, do make money, and have always controlled distribution channels.

So, people have been saying for the past decade how movie/film/TV piracy is destroying the livelihoods of everyone from the janitor at NBC Studios to the radio DJ to the kid selling CDs at your local music shop. Websites which allow the easy transfer of media between people have been described as nothing short of abominations and safe harbors for criminals. We (collective) thieves and criminals only use these networks to steal material from the good and hard-working people who create the blockbuster movies we watch while munching popcorn every Friday night. We thieves rob the MPAA mebers of the ability to make more movies by stealing their hard work. We take food from the mouths of camera men and their children. Musical acts such as Jay-Z and Taylor Swift can not keep putting out albums if piracy continues unabated. Every song we thieves download from file-sharing sites takes away money that could be used to sign and develop the next Metallica or Ozzy Osbourne. File-sharing sites have no legitimate purpose other than to steal. This has been and is the mantra from the RIAA and MPAA.

Well, there are some major fallacies and discrepancies between what the MPAA and RIAA would have you believe and the truth. To begin with, the MPAA and RIAA members have been reporting record profits despite the horrific piracy that threatens their existence. So, that shuts down the argument that these organizations are unable to keep the lights on in the office. It would seem to me that this means they should be expanding, and are not struggling to survive as they would have us believe.

Secondly, the movie and record industries use some very creative accounting to keep any movie or record from ever making a profit. Would you believe that Star Wars has never made a penny? It’s true. The guy who played Darth Vader (under the suit) has not received a penny of the over 1/2 BILLION dollars which Star Wars has actually netted. The RIAA is pretty good at this type of accounting too. Put simply, these corporations are broke as can be if you subscribe to their accounting methods. Fortunately, we live in the real world and can see that they are merely cheating the United States tax system. So, piracy isn’t breaking the bank, then why are these trade groups saying that it is destroying them?

We should look at the business models of the RIAA and MPAA to begin to explain their arguments/lies. Until the past few years music and movies had always been bought and sold as hard copies. This holds true for VHS, DVD, BD, record, tape, CD and if you reach way back – 8-track. Members of the RIAA and MPAA have always been the primary controllers of these media. Sure, independent shops existed, but big companies have a close relationship with radio stations and other ways to promote their hard copy productions. Movie studios do a great job of using fast food toys to advertise to kids. These facts show that until very recently media distribution was performed via hard copy by large corporations. There were no mass distribution channels without one of the studios behind you.

Recently, this has changed with the advent of iTunes, Spotify, BitTorrent, and other file-sharing sites.

 Part 2 will be released later and explains why piracy is nothing more than illegal distribution, and seems to not harm the industries in actuality.