Sunday, February 23, 2003

How to Stop P2P

So there was this article on regarding a new approach to stop the masses of people who are pirating online over P2P networks. It frustrates me to say the least. Over the past two years since Napster's inception, no one has deterred piracy one bit. They keep investing more and more these days into technological measures to deter piracy. It gains them nothing. Within a few weeks, new and more powerful tools are released as workarounds for what these media conglomerates just paid millions to create. The worst part about it is these hackers are only creating tools that are even more difficult to stop.

No one seems to understand that it's not about forcing people to stop pirating. It's about giving people an easy way to buy it legally and use it the way they want. I've tried using these subscription services that are out there today and it's TOTALLY depressing. They all suffer from the same flaws. To put it one sentence, IF I were to pirate a piece of media, than I have ultimately more freedom to use it the way I want (i.e. choose my player and portable device) than I do if I were to pay for it using these services.

The fact that I can't play a song that I just downloaded from PressPlay with Winamp, or transfer it to my iPod is simply ridiculous. The only way that any of these services will ever be a success is if they can provide a better user experience and more convenience than the pirated version.

These subscription services are supposedly going after the 'early adopter' crowd. When it comes to media I'd be say that I'm an early adopter. I have many friends that are also early adopters. How come we ALL think that these existing subscription services suck?

The areas that these services consistently fail are:
- Flexibility to use the media I just paid for in the way that I want.
- Burn all the tracks I downloaded to CD.
- Transfer it to my portable device.
- Choose the player that I can play it back with.
- Limited catalog only appeals to the masses, and yet only early adopters are willing to try. Early adopters do not live off Britney Spears. They like Kruder & Dorfmeister.
- Many services have a series of nasty DRM schemes that have noticeable impacts on system performance.
- Fidelity is lower with legal alternatives than on pirated.
- Fact of the matter is, people who rip content themselves take more time and effort to ensure that the audio quality is great. Legal alternatives pretty much all sound like crap because they choose codecs from the companies that cut them the best deal. Usually resulting in less than spectacular fidelity.

Instead of making it easy, they just make it hard for those interested in being paying customers. Truth of the matter is, I don't blame them. A lot of these media companies have had the rug swept out from under them. They didn't see any of this coming. However, I do blame them for not seeing the huge opportunity that was presented to them.

Now people think that music isn't worth anything and that they should just get it for free. Had they realized the potential demand and delivered a product that filled the need, they would be in a very different place.

I bought a copy of Battlefield 1942, and the piracy prevention measures they've put in the game makes me not want to buy any more products from EA. I bought the game and they make me wait before every time I launch the game and load a multiplayer map for the CD verification .

Let me spell it out for all of you companies out there looking to stop piracy. People who want to pirate software will pirate, those who don't will pay. Adding layers of complexity to prevent someone from pirating only pisses off the people who you should care about the most, your paying customers.


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