Sellutions: Copyright and Common Sense

“Common sense is not so common.”

― Voltaire

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain”

― Henry Ford

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.

― H. G. Wells

I have been hammering away at the SOPA and PIPA problem for some time now. However, even if we are successful in the defeat of these bills, it will not change the fact that there is a very real piracy problem. As I have explained in prior entries the “law and order” approach employed for the last few decades is not working. Technology changes everything. Even the practice of law is beginning to peel away from the traditional model. You are never going to eliminate piracy, but you can take a large bite out of it by altering the traditional business model of the copyright owner.

I was reading the article Copyright Sage Bill Patry On What Content Owners Should Do Now . First off they are not kidding when they use the word “sage” with reference to this fellow. I agree with just about everything he says in this interview, including his statement about content holders; “I want them to be wildly profitable because I love their stuff.” Books and movies are my favorite things. No profits, no books or movies. Patry makes several points worth mentioning.

  1. Focus on Access Not Copies: “Control over the reproduction of books, music and movies was forever the cornerstone of the content industry’s business model. * * * content owners should focus on expanding access through technology like streaming rather than controlling copies. ‘The answer to the contraband stuff is flooding the market with authorized versions.'” Think Netflix, which has become profitable even when they don’t have access to all the latest content. I never watched Lost until I had Netflix. I had to watch about four years of it to catch up, but how awesome is that? Stream it until you drop.


  2. Pricing Matters As Much As Piracy: “holding out for Western level pricing rather than making digital media available at prices that consumers in developing nations can afford. This means increasing the customer base and making money from a larger number of small transactions.” Tiered pricing is common in many industries. You are not going to get fifteen dollars for your dvd in many countries. It has to be a volume business, or the illegitimate copies will keep on coming.


  3. Focus On The Product Not The Law: (Amen, Hallelujah, Amen.)


    Media products, like those in other industries, have a finite life cycle and it’s ultimately futile trying to extend that cycle after consumers have embraced a new era of products. Publishing industries, though, are fixated on passing stricter laws in an effort to wring more revenue out of dated products. This is a mistake. “You can’t control through laws a product cycle that is over. Laws aren’t going to help you force people to buy things they don’t want to buy in the first place.” Patry suggests it’s better to focus on providing consumers with new products in “formats, places and times” they will embrace. (Once again, think Netflix.) He also suggests that publishers concentrate on value-added features. They can do so for digital products but also for legacy products like hardcover books and music compilations. Patry explains he recently refused to buy a $30 DVD of Kung Fu Panda 2 because there is no added value to justify the cost. But he will happily shell out much more than that for the beauty and tactile joy of an elegant edition.

There is room for profit and common sense with copyright. The industry I beginning to understand that: passing SOPA and PIPA will not fly under the radar like the passing of the DMCA. Social media has wrested a good deal of control away from content holders on the message of piracy. Here is a new message from the American People: Adapt or die. Also, deferring to you as content holder on the state of piracy and the solution to the same is no longer possible. With SOPA and PIPA you have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that you cannot be trusted.

About Timothy Powers O'Neill

Timothy O’Neill, an attorney with the firm of Cohen Norris practices in the areas of business litigation, real estate litigation, and intellectual property litigation. Timothy received his Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Evansville and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 1997. Following law school, Timothy clerked for two years in the State of Florida's Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County, and served as a law clerk in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Timothy serves as an executive board member of the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, a non-profit entity dedicated to preserving Florida’s wildlife through rehabilitation and education. Timothy is admitted to practice before all of the state courts of Florida as well as: The Supreme Court of the United States; United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit; United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; United States District Court, Southern District of Florida; United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, United States District Court of Colorado, and is a member of the Palm Beach County, Florida, and Federal Bar Associations.

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