Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Should we Encourage Piracy?

The Indian government must encourage piracy. Now the usual arguments of what about the creators of that which is pirated, how will they survive and so forth form in your mind. Let me make a rational stand for my argument. Imagine a pre-internet India, or lets go back a bit further and  to a pre-liberalization India, the only channel on TV was the heavily edited DD, newspapers were used to be stifled (emergency) and the only access to western civilization was expensive imported books (on which heavy excise was charged, just imagine books having to be smuggled), I remember my father telling me that the only reason he had access to excellent books during his childhood was beacause he grew up near a bunch of embassies and had access to those books. This was a government trying to keep its citizens in the dark, working for inefficient organizations. .

Then the floodgates opened in 1991, and India was suddenly exposed to the world to what it really was, an archaic broken organization. It took 7 years for the internet to really get going. Now a beautiful quality of the internet is that it eliminates artificial barriers (like excise), and is designed with the sole purpose of equality, in fact my fascination with the internet extends to thinking the idea of open protocols if applied to govern humans in the "real world" would finally lead to the long sought after utopia, but I digress, back to the topic, when the internet arrived, there was a slow but marked change in the awareness levels of people.

This equality of the internet allows anything that can be digitized to be shared free of cost, books, music, art, all pillars of an informed civilization made available to all. This has an almost socialistic effect on the distribution of knowledge. A guy could have access to literature dating from 1900s to the present in a hut, that kind of power will have repercussions, if the internet is used properly it could eliminate all the so called "tech lag", between third world nations and the rest of the world.

However I have long suspected it is always in the interest of a large organization to keep the people in the dark, as uninformed people are easier to manipulate (think of how the villagers in India are misled by politicians), this interest would definitely come in the way of really opening the floodgates. Edit: Now we see the government trying to actively censor the government, proof that they fear an informed populace.

And coming to the question of social responsibility and who pays for all that is pirated, there are two ways, big media aligns itself to this new mode of distribution, and switches to an advertising based model, or moderates costs based on the consumer, that is based on the purchasing of the customer (in a region) the rates change, yes there is a large scope for abuse, but then I am talking about media conglomerates embracing the internet, so I am allowed to be inventive.

Painting credit:
Reaching enlightenment - John Bencko