How Piracy evolved the industry

    Lets face it, almost everyone has illegally downloaded something at some point in their life. Many of them are unaware of the effects it can have on the technology industry. All digital mediums have tried to fight it as well as placing strong legal penalties on those who pirate their work; or creating offers so competitive, pirates will want to legally acquire it. In this article, I will discuss the second method.

    Pirates have always been around, they started off raiding ships, and evolved to fourteen year olds in their parent's basement illegally downloading Game of Thrones. Corporations have feared the product loss from the culprits offering rewards to whoever may turn the guilty in. They attempted to pass laws like SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, to enforce strict penalties on users and websites who post illegal content. However, the twenty-first century found a more effective method.

    They decided to offer better, more competitive and convenient alternatives than piracy. Before I had two options, I could go to the store, or iTunes, and buy a song I wanted; or I could go to a pirate websites and download the song for free (risking it may be a virus, or extremely low quality). Recently a new method was developed, advertisements, or digital subscriptions. It started with services like Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Hulu etc. offering free music streaming with paid advertisements between some songs (or sections of the video for Hulu). Users were given the option of a premium plan where they had more options on what they could listen to or watch. This created a more convenient alternative to piracy. There was only one foreseeable problem.

    You can't be online all-the-time. Some music streaming services worked around this issue by caching the music on users devices, as long as they have an active subscription. Before I would have to go to the store and buy all the CDs of my favorite artists (hoping my music is popular enough to be sold in a store), and download it to my phone in a ten hour long process. Now I pay a $10 per month Google Play All Access subscription, where I get to listen to unlimited music, online and offline, no matter how much or little I listen. This is very convenient to consumers, however it is horrible for business owners and musicians. They are now getting paid less, because they have to settle for lower-paying offers so people won't steal the work they devoted hundreds of hours for almost nothing.

    If you use commercial grade software you may have noticed the software you spent $700 on the latest version is now being sold in a $20 per month subscription plan including all the latest updates for said program. This is the software developer trying to compete against piracy. Adobe and Microsoft are the ones I am referring to. Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite(now Creative Cloud) are some of the most pirated software products on the market. Recently each of these companies began offering subscription services of their products (Office 365 and Creative Cloud). These products now services include the latest updates of the product, as long as you continue to pay the subscription fee. These may be more convenient to professional organizations who need the latest version of these programs to be effective in their industry. Many professionals were (and still are) pirating these software because it was/is more convenient than illegally acquiring it.

    Software developers have also began using tactics to prevent, or make it difficult to, pirate their product. This is done by several methods, such as DRM (Digital Rights Management, a topic for another article) or Software as a Service. Software as a Service (also known as SAAS, not to be confused with SASS) is where you pay monthly subscriptions to access the software, such as that of the previous paragraph.

    Piracy made software developers offer more convenient systems, decreasing the profits of these corporations. This is great for consumers, however businesses are forced to accept lower payments so their work won't be stolen. What do you think?

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