Defeating Piracy: Eliminating Content's Barriers to Entry

A recent post on GigaOm has Jeff John Roberts asking if Comcast's plan to turn pirates into customers is breakthrough or bogus?

If it’s true, the plan represents a major shift in the piracy debate, one that would begin treating piracy as a pricing problem, more than a criminal one. This would jibe with renowned copyright scholar Bill Patry’s theory that the best response to a piracy epidemic is to flood the zone with licensed, affordable content.

Isn't this what I and many other geeks like me have been saying for years: make content both affordable and accessible and that will help curb piracy? I'm not saying that it will eliminate it altogether - nothing will fully eliminate it. However, we can curb it, by addressing the barriers to entry in the first place.

Ask most people why they steal anything and the reason which it boils down to usually has to do with money or access. Someone who pulls a distraction scam in a jewelry store does so because the item is both expensive and not easily accessible. By nature, people don't steal things that are cheap and have a surplus of stock, unless there is some other outside motivation. People don't download unauthorized copies of Adobe Photoshop because you can walk into Best Buy and $50 later walk out with your own copy; they do it because it is both cost-prohibitive in many cases and because it's out of the reach of many both financially and physically.

That same line of thinking can be applied to content. Why do people pirate shows such as those on HBO? Because for them, it's easier and cheaper to do so. How much cost does it take to fire up a torrent for a season of Game of Thrones? Only as much bandwidth as you'll use for those 30 minutes. The cost to illegally obtaining content is a fraction compared to what you would pay to legitimately acquire the content.

If the content creation industry can address the issue of barriers, i.e. price and access, then they still have a chance at maintaining order. Throwing the DMCA in peoples' faces isn't winning them the hearts and minds of content thieves. It's only pouring fuel on the fire. Let's face it: the DMCA, DRM, copy protection, and strict accessibility to content isn't working. Let's try affordable, accessible content for a change. It's the only thing the industry hasn't tried.

Source: Comcast rumored to be launching anti-piracy campaign focused on sales [Comcast Roundup] » Philly