I’ve been pondering this posting for quite some time and I thought there was no better time to post it than today, as NBC Universal and News Corp are about to roll-out their YouTube Killer. I think my parents did an excellent job raising me. They weren’t too strict at all but certainly set ground rules. I think I ‘stole’ a pack of baseball cards when I was 5, but that was because my mother was rushing me out of the store when she realized I had a pack of cards in my hands, when we were halfway down the block. I ended up getting lectured about stealing – and I don’t think I ever did it again… until I was about 12.
The bulletin board systems (BBS) were getting popular and people started trading software on their computers. Note: Trading. Not buying and selling. “Warez” became a popular term amongst a niche crowd and I remember programs like HotlineSW. These programs helped me figure out where to find the latest version of Photoshop or Kais Power Tools (back in the day, I was very into graphics). The interesting thing was, is that I downloaded all of these programs for free but purchased hundreds of dollars of books to teach myself how to use them.
Adobe started cracking down on all of the pirated software vendors and users so I stopped downloading illegally. Friends of mine continued with the justification of, “I’m downloading 1 copy of maybe 5 programs… the industry is not going to come after me, as I’m a guppy in a sea of sharks.” That maybe true, but what about morals and ethics?
Fast forward to the end of highschool and into college. Fanning started Napster (with the ‘lost’ roomate) and we began downloading MP3s like no tomorrow. Artists started yelling and screaming, record labels flipped out, and the world was going to meltdown it seemed. Well, it didn’t. The music industry is still adjusting to post-Napster days (Kazaa, Morpheus, eDonkey, etc) but I stopped downloading illegal music. Personally, I took a stance that artists need to get paid for their work, and if they want me to download it free, they’ll let me know, but if not, I’ll buy it in the stores or on iTunes. Also, I prefer to own the album/CD, as I like coverart and the package. However, millions of people are taking music files that are being sold in stores and are acquiring them free. illegally. What about morals and ethics?
The video game industry is facing a huge issue of piracy. I’ve heard numbers quoted that of every game sold in South America, 10 games are pirated. That’s a 1:10 ratio. Ridiculous. The number may actually be higher, I’m just too lazy to factcheck this article (they don’t pay me enough, that’s a JOKE, it’s my blog). Why buy the games if you can get them off the grey market for free? Good question – but what about morals and ethics?
I had a recent meeting with a very prominent venture capitalist who was giving me some advice on a new venture I’m advising. He told me to side with the ‘bad guys” as that’s where the consumers are. He said eventually, the industry will have no other choice than to play-ball. However, by siding with the ‘bad guys’, I’m contributing to a major problem in the industry and not paying attention to my personal morales and ethics. How is that supposed to work?
Companies who have taken the rebellious routes include Napster, Kazaa, YouTube, IGE, and others. I don’t consider Skype rebellious as they legally facilitated phone calls across the world, just through a new technical structure.
I’m 25. I’m not 60. Am I really that old? Am I wrong here for thinking this way? I realize that rebels tend to be successful, but at what price? What are your thoughts? Maybe I was raised too conservatively?