Jul 13

Ethical Reminders Have a Positive Impact: Increasing Conversion Rate on Digital Media Sell-Through Via “Morality Messaging”

Some time back, we identified an issue where customers were hitting product pages for our digital media content, but then abandoning the site immediately after. After seeing this, we dug in a bit further and saw that the majority of this was from customers coming directly to the site via Google or other search engines.

The best way to get to the bottom of this behavior, we decided, was to put together a survey and ask customers why they were leaving. After gathering quite a bit of feedback, the reason became abundantly clear: roughly 75% of respondents said they “decided not to purchase” because they “wanted the product for free.” (And that doesn’t include the people who would be too embarrassed to admit such a thing!)

Well, obviously making product free wasn’t an option – at least not if we actually wanted to retain licenses, continue to exist as a company, or follow any sort of ethical standards we have in place. So we struggled a bit – was this group of visitors simply a lost cause? Were they people who just weren’t going to be converted to customers? Continue reading →

Jun 10

J.A. Konrath Is Not “Embracing Piracy” With His Free eBook Experiment

So this past Sunday, independent author, J.A. Konrath decided to run an experiment.  In order to prove his theory that piracy doesn’t hurt sales he’s encouraging people to steal one of his books for the next month.  Yes, that’s right – he wants people to freely trade, post, share, and distribute his eBook, Jack Daniels Stories for the next thirty days.  The way the experiment is set to work (note this is my simplified explanation) is that he will keep track of the current sales and ranking of the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. and see how free trading of his books affects their sales.

To help spur this trading/sharing, he’s offering a zip file containing multiple formats of the e-book on his site. He’s also encouraging those who download the file to upload it to all the file sharing sites they use and distribute it in any way possible (or, if they prefer, not distribute it at all).  Basically he’s giving permission for people to steal his book so he can see if it really hurts sales.

The problem with this experiment however, is that it’s really nothing more than a marketing tactic. By giving permission for people to share this book he’s not, in any way. embracing piracy, but rather he’s embracing alternative distribution channels.  Copyright law grants the copyright holder or administrator the right to determine the price and distribution allowed for any work owned/administered, so obviously if he’s telling people to trade the file and download it without payment, that’s his right to do as the copyright holder. All he’s done is lowered the price of this book to zero for the duration of his experiment.  (If this non-price will continue to be enforced once the thirty days are up, and if so, whether he decides to do anything about it are unknown.) Continue reading →

May 10

Hollywood’s Injunction to Disconnect The Pirate Bay (This Time in Germany)

Today I was discussing the recent LimeWire copyright infringement decision with a colleague of mine, when he remarked “I want the Pirate Bay shut down too.” Then I realized that some of you may have missed the latest news. According to an article on TorrentFreak, a group of major Hollywood studios have obtained a preliminary injunction from the Hamburg District Court in Germany against The Pirate Bay’s web host, CB3ROB, prohibiting them from connecting the Pirate Bay’s web servers to the Internet.

You can read more about this at Torrentfreak. However, for more information I recommend checking out this article over at The Register in the UK, where representatives from the web host say they know nothing of this injunction, and even go so far as to refer to The Pirate Bay as “fully legit.”

The sad part is, that if the Pirate Bay gets disconnected, it’s almost certain we’ll see it pop right back up in some other country on another web service. I hate to say it, but perhaps it’s time we consider actually putting together laws that require ISPs to block access to sites that are known to be operating illegally. Otherwise, it’s just going to continue to be a game of whack-a-mole.

May 10

LimeWire Has Officially Been Deemed Illegal (It’s About Time)

LimeLimeWire has finally been found illegal, liable for copyright infringement, a bunch of thieves, etc.

The news of this has been all over the web (WSJ has one of the best pieces of coverage), but I think Patrick Ross of the Copyright Alliance has one of the best responses to it on their blog.

I left my thoughts on the Copyright Alliance’s site, but thought it was worth sharing here as well. So, consider this my official response to the news.

“This is one of the best pieces of news I’ve seen reported in a long time. It’s about time this happened. I remember a few years ago, I was talking to some people I knew and found out that they don’t ever buy music – instead they only download from Limewire (or did at the time). The thing is, when I told them that what they were doing was illegal, they had no idea. Their response was “but I bought some pro version and a plan.” It was only after explaining to them that it still was unlicensed and nothing went to any of the artists or creators that they saw just how misled they had been.

Limewire’s entire business plan was built around the theft of copyrighted materials, and as you said, they were just fine with that. It’s good to see that the Judicial System has stepped up and given them the smack they so deserve.”

It’s about time.

May 10

My New Book: “Starving the Artist” Is Now Available

If you’ve been following my updates here or on Twitter, you are likely aware that over the last nine months or so I’ve been working on a new, nonfiction book, discussing the value of creative works.  The book, Starving the Artist, focuses on how in today’s Internet age where information can be transferred for a negligible amount of money (basically for free), the underlying creation that makes up the music, movies, books, art and other types of media that we enjoy, is being viewed as something that should be free as well.  A lot of this comes from the thought process that the actual cost of a product should be determined in great part to the physical cost of the packaged good, as well as the general philosophy of those that argue “Information should be free.”

The full title of the book is Starving the Artist: How the Internet Culture of “Free” Threatens to Exterminate the Creative Class and What Can Be Done to Save It.  It’s not a book about copyright law or an argument that “free is evil” – instead it’s a discussion of our current state of how we value other people’s work and creations, and how it should not be up to us as consumers to decide whether or not we want to pay what the creator is asking (if they are asking for anything at all). In some ways it’s a response to Chris Anderson’s Free: The Future of a Radical Price and tangential to Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur.

Continue reading →