One of the anti-DRM arguments people often make is that if you make it easy enough for people to buy content legitimately, they won’t need to pirate anymore. Here is a case study in favor of that argument:
Thorin Kiosowski over at Lifehacker has a great essay up about why he stopped pirating media and started paying for it legitimately. Kiosowski begins by explaining why he pirated to begin with, namely that at the time, ‘legit’ digital media was confusing, expensive and failed to provide a good experience.
He then lists three things that changed his mind:
• He stopped feeling the need to own everything immediately
• Media and software companies made things easier
• It ended up being more cost-effective not to pirate
In his analysis, Kiosowski raises some good points. I don’t think we’re all the way there yet in terms of balancing the factors of availability, customer experience and price. But I agree with his point that when you’re dealing with free or nearly-free services like Spotify (free, or $5 to remove the ads) or Netflix (less than eight bucks), it’s certainly much easier and more convenient to pay and use the service like a regular person than to seek out a torrent and spend hours waiting for it to download.
Of course, as with all Lifehacker stories, the best story is just as often in the comments as it is in the article proper. For a counterpoint, a guy from Argentina writes:
“I live in Argentina and we can’t buy or rent SHIT here. Just the other day I tried to buy a $5 item from Amazon. It came with a $50 shipping and handling. Yes, $50 for a $5 item. It’s the same with digital content, here it doesn’t exist. A private tracker and EVERYTHING I can’t (CAN’T) buy, I can get. 1 click away. It’s sad, really.”