Will YouTube Red bring changes to the Piracy Beater structure?

YouTube’s latest announcement of its ‘Red’ program is now in the news. YouTube has emerged from being a slow sluggish and redundant beast in early 2005 when Internet Speeds were low in India, to a terrible ‘Wait and Buffer’ experience to the unbeatable numero-uno Video Engine today. It simply has become a people phenomenon almost as much as ‘Google for Search’ or ‘Facebook for Social Media’..

Faster Internet access speeds over the years, Tools for AntiPiracy, Legitimate partnership programmes and a space for the small creator are all what makes it successful. No one even today, can even believe that every minute ( or second?), YouTube gets 50-100 hours of Video Footage uploaded.. How Google manages the bandwidth or the storage is a secret that should be there, almost on par with what Kamalhassan did way back in 1989 with Aboorva Sagotharargal..

Although Traditionally, the bulk of Youtube’s access has been free, with monetization over advertisements ( Piracy Beaters), Over the years, Youtube even added an option for content creators to provide ‘Paid’ access. ( A Revenue Enhancer Model)

YT

One of the greatest beneficiaries of this flexibility that connected both creators ( Content Partners) and the public was that it provided a great flexibility. Channels like ‘All India Backchod’ and ‘The Viral Fever’ went on to become house hold names. They were providing refreshing quick consumable and entertaining content. The Viral Fever even went on to develop its own dedicated and independent programming material, and All India Backchod, got its own space on Television ( something that usually reverses in India, where people try to re-upload TV content on YouTube and try to earn what ever they can Ads)..

AIB

(Ironically, AIB is using YouTube to advertise Hotstar, which is YouTube’s competitor)

However, the biggest change that occured was that main stream movies were coming online. Some would not come, but many would. It was just a question of time. A matter or a month or two, depending on a film’s popularity and its box office performance. Once the early period of theatre monetization was done with, many films found their way to YouTube.

SALIM

(A legitimate copy of the Movie ‘Salim’ appears to have been published on YouTube, a few months within its release. Users can watch this movie for free, online, at this moment.)

It was also a co-incidence that DVDs were going out of vogue, and people hardly used USB to transfercontent around. Everything was becoming easy-peasy. The Web – YouTube, Zip-Zap and stream. Seamless. With falling sales, Older Titles from DVD companies ( literally thousands of them) were finding their way on YouTube. Even, Officially, Channels like Raj Video Vision were providing several Titles to watch online for free, each DVD which would have cost a user atleast 50 to 60 Rupees on the market. All this worked, because, the Channels were probably making something, due to ads.

It was suiting a user fine too. Bear with an Ad or Two, or simply hit the ‘Skip Ad’ button and you were off.

Now, with the ‘YouTube Red’ program however, things could change.

youtubered-1200

Although not yet launched in India, YouTube Red, is bringing about a change, where content creators have an option to opt for the YouTube Red program, which is an Ad-Free subscription, and which technically will bring more money, since users pay up 9.99$/month. ( When it launches in India, it may be slightly cheaper in Indian Rupees).

However, the question is, how many will pay to watch content in India? India has a huge population, but what is the affordabilty quotient. The USP from the consumer point is that there wont be Ads. But up and until now, I don’t think YouTube Ads had reached the point of nagging, where the user would throw up and say, I’ll pay. It was moderate, and the ad experience was reasonable. But at 9.99$/ month?

‘ The creator is faced with a terrible dilemma. If he does not agree to the new terms, his video simply wont be visible. It will become private. Trak.in mentions this dilemma better. 

Amidst the excitement of this paid Youtube plan, it seems that the most important entity of this whole platform: The content creators, are being taken for a ride by Google.

Apparently, all content creators are being forced to signup for Youtube Red, or else they can face extinction. Technically, its an offer which they can’t refuse.

It’s literally a “signup or disappear” situation for them, as indirectly, Google has informed all content creators that if they don’t sign up for Youtube Red, then their content would be neither available in old free format nor in the new paid format.

This leaves very little room for negotiation for all content creators, whose hard work is now being monetized by Youtube. Techcrunch has said that “It’s a tough pill to swallow that makes YouTube look like a bully..”.’

You can read the entire article, here.

It is unclear to me, at this point as to whether a Copyright Holder of a film comes under the category of ‘Content Creator’ or not. If it is, then it appears that one thing is likely to happen. Movie creators, especially the new ones, definitely won’t be putting content up for free. They would go, the 100 Rs.rental mode way. Atleast, one or two people, would pay to watch it, would be from their perspective, since there is no point uploading content for free, if it is not even going to get them, advertisement revenue.

However, the worst affected, if they come under the ‘Content Creator’ category is likely to be the catalogue and copyright holders of the older films. The films that dont make major DVD sales anymore. How many people would pay Rs.50 or 100 and watch them online? Is there any continuous monetization scope, no matter how measly, left for them, anymore?

Psst: I get the feeling that Google is acting as a bully here. It is trying to use its advantage and monopoly in Video distribution in YouTube, to bundle and promote its nascent Music Service, something that has heavy competition, amongst established players. In India, Google Music would have to compete with Gaana, Saavn, Itunes, Rdio, Hungama etc. On the International Front, it would have to compete with Spotify.). This makes it easier, i guess.

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Digital Rights Management and its impact in the Current ‘CopyRight-Piracy’ Conflict..

The first half of the decade, the years 2000-2006 were the years where the legitimate industry bore the brunt of the Piracy onslaught. The legitimate industry simply was too confused as changes were happening at such a rapid level and ordinary users were getting sucked into Piracy, at a growth rate, possibly never seen much, before by mankind.

At that point in time, The industry itself was internally faced by several dilemmas, themselves. It could never bring itself to the fact that things (or media) could be sold entirely in a digital format and believed that users must and should consume legitimate physical products and it was much more legal and ethical. But it failed to realize that content entirely digital had a certain convenience that physical did not provide.

Another possible reason was that physical sales, in the short term were still not being impacted, and switching entirely to digital could hurt physical sales. This dilemma continues even today, and exists in various forms, when one sees the over all ‘Copyright-Piracy’ conflict. This particular issue, i like to refer to as a ‘Seesaw Conundrum’ ( when you try to raise one end for a benefit, you end up losing something on another side). The ‘SeeSaw conundrum‘ in itself, i see as part of a larger ‘External Variable conundrum‘, a phenomenon that is beyond control of an individual or an organization and happens due to the totally diverse and potentially overlapping regions of the Internet.

Another problem faced by the Industry was that if it even decided to move towards a ‘Digital’ only model, as most of them have today, there were no proper digital payment infrastructure in the banking and Economic transaction system, as stable and relatively secure as we see today. Following 2006, Piracy continued to grow even faster, especially when Internet Piracy began to outclass traditional Disc based piracy, but by then the Industry had overcome the early shock and had produced several limited counter attacks and potential ‘Revenue generative’ attempts to fight Piracy on price. While most of them may have produced ‘short term results’, several of them have sunk and are slowly being lost to obscurity.

But amidst all this, one move seems to be clearly one of the tools that the ‘Copyright Industry’ will use as a weapon which is already in contemporary use and which is out to stay in the long term. Although DRM can be used for multiple applications including Audio* and Video**, it is primarily associated with Books.

So, this blog post will focus primarily on how DRM is applied to Books, and try to dissect its role in the phenomenon. Back then, even in the Analog world, Books were duplicated, some through Xerox and some through cheap copies. But the economics of that time meant that only ‘Best sellers’ were likely sold through such counterfeit books. This phenomenon even continues to this day, and one can find cheap copies of such books in M.G.Road or majestic circle. They cost typically around Rs.50-100 and are quite cheap when compared to an original book. The quality of print and paper is typically very poor, and is virtually uncomparable to an original.

But the rate and scale of copying offered by Digital Technology and the sharing infrastructure that the Internet enabled made this a much more serious issue. In all fairness, Book Piracy was relatively low in the ‘2000-06′ era and the brunt was borne by the Movie and the Music Industry. This could be explained by a simple logic that the hardware form factors – be it a Desktop or a Laptop were not suited to reading Books, unlike today’s Ereaders or Tablets.

If one looks at most of the research done over the Internet after spending possibly millions of dollars – inevitably, most of them draw one of these two conclusions – “Piracy boosts Legal sales’, or ‘Piracy destroys Legal sales and costs millions of jobs and millions of dollars in taxes to the Government”. This loop goes on with each new research trying to outprove, its counterpart’s conclusions.

But in an era of 2000-06, it may have made some sense, for the ‘Pro Piracy’ advocates, who said that Pirating book users go on and buy legitimate physical books, because the Pirated copy allowed them to read a sample. The logic may have held water back then. There were also links that this famous author advocated Piracy and said that it boosted his sales. ( I believe it is his official blog).

But today, in a world of EReaders, Tablets and Kindles, it is that much more likely that a pirating Ebook user would pay to buy physical content, because in many ways, the digital experience is much more convenient than the physical one, and how many would want to buy a physical one, which is less convenient, when they get the more convenient digital version for free?

So, this is where DRM comes in. It relies on a logic that a pirated copy will originate from a unencrypted legal Ebook copy, and that is why it needs to have some measures to avoid copy. The logic is good at one level, but fails, because unlike its other cousins, which have almost long since and almost are on the fringe of abandoning physical products, physical books still hold ground. Maybe, there is really is something about Paper.

So, DRM technically stops or makes it difficult for a legal Ebook to be duplicated and pirated, but there is no proven theory that it helps boosts book sales. It is just a ‘Piracy Stopper’, but in no way, unlike say ‘Saavn’ or ‘Moser Baer’ , a revenue generator, which by themselves, become ‘Piracy Stoppers’.

While DRM has to protect the rights of the Copyright Holder by preventing duplication of digital copies, it also has to protect the rights of the buyer, many of whom want the freedoms and flexibility that physical books offer them. So, DRM has to balance the needs of both users. So, let us see, how this works out in today’s Digital ECommerce, App Ecosystem and the Cloud.

 

#1

Depending on the case, a user may have permanent or temporary access to a Ebook. A user may choose to permanently purchase a copy of a book via Amazon Kindle or Google Play. This entitles them to access the book through their own various stock clients across multiple Operating Systems that ‘sync’ information about the book’s position and gives the user a seamless experience. Another alternative application that DRM offers is similar to renting a physical book from a library. While I am unaware if this feature is available through traditional Ebook stores, it is available if you are a member of the British Library.

Once you pay for an online membership( The Library has several schemes that allow users to rent Physical Books, Optical Media like DVDs, Magazines, Children’s comics etc), the British Library gives the user, the availability of Ebooks that can be rented. The user can choose the book, and click download and which leads to a temporary file that contain metadata like the Date Of Download. This Temporary file can be opened in an ‘Adobe Digital Editions’ Application ( the normal Adobe Reader won’t work), which reads the details in the file and starts the download process of the file. The user will also need to have a registered ‘Adobe Account’. The file is downloaded and can be seen and viewed in the Adobe Digital Editions Application like a normal PDF. The only difference is that after the period ( typically 14 days), the file will stop working, and the user will have to repeat the original process and get a new rental key from the British Library server.

#2

Once the book is purchased, the user can download the book offline on the client. In most cases, a copy of the most updated version of the book rests on the Service’s server. The user has the option to add Annotations, while some services offer a ‘One Touch’ integration to share select ‘quotes’ directly on Twitter and Facebook. The Kindle Edition also offers a direct integration with the Book Review and Dedicated Book Social Media website – Good Reads (?)

#3

once the book is downloaded and authenticated, users can add their notes, bookmarks and highlights. Although, the device gives the appearance of over the top, imprints, it is a digital mirage. The device handles both these info seperately, and only momentarily places the annotations at specific co-ordinates over the book. This is the reason, why an Annotation made in 1 client, when sync’d over the cloud, can be deleted over the other. Users who use the ‘Image Annotation’ Feature in Evernote/Skitch across multiple devices can also understand this concept better.

Citing from the book, Multimedia Systems Design by Prabhat.K.Andleigh & Kiran Thakrar  – “Image Annotation can be performed in one of the two ways ; as a text file stored along with the image or as a small image stored within the original image. The annotation is over layed over the original image for display purposes. While this may sound simple enough, it is not without complication. It requires tracking multiple image components associated with a single page, decompressing all of them, and ensuring correct spatial alignment as they are overlayed.” 

Once this process is done, the annotated book is sync’d across the cloud. The details of the book can be download on another client via the same process. So, now having described a simple technically on how DRM works, let us consider a Socio-Ethical Debate on where DRM lies today. As with almost every technical development over the Internet, there are Pros and Cons.

#4

 

As you can see from the graph, the first function that any paying user wishes to have is that all his rights of an Analog book should be translatable in a digital version. The advantages that Digital Technology provides over Analog should be fully available, without any hassles.

  1. For instance, Digital Technology easily allows the ‘Copying of Text’ for citation purposes much more easily rather than Physical Text.
  2. Digital Technology allows the possibility of ‘Text to Speech’ which can particularly be useful for people with special ‘Attention, Viewing and Reading Difficulties”.

On the other side, DRM’s main function is to Stop a legal copy being Pirated. Although, there are other ways how Pirated copies will come out, as explained below, and which is way beyond the scope for DRM to help.

So, in addressing both these world’s, where does DRM fail or where does it Win? Let us consider a small example, of a book that i purchased?

1. Copying of Text – “The need to resort to a song in a given situation is perhaps a continuation of a literature-oriented aesthetic where versification or poetry…” This is a citation from one of the books that i am currently reading. ‘The Eye of the Serpent – An Introduction to Tamil Cinema by Theodore Baskaran”. While the app allows me, a paid user to copy a citation ( which is about 1-2 paragraphs into Evernote, which i index with other data), the app limits the copy to a mere 140 characters. The larger irony is that not even a complete sentence could be copied, and I am not using it for Twitter, for me to limit my text to 140 characters.

So, in the absurd logic that a pirating user may copy away reams of pages, using ‘Copy&Paste’ logic, DRM has put a fix of 140 characters, in the hope that it will be too big for a pirating user to copy a book. Since, it isn’t helping a legally purchased user anyway, i suggest making the copy limit to 14 characters, which will make it 10 times even more tougher for the pirate to copy. It isn’t helping a legal user much, anyways.

2. Intercompatibility of Playback Clients – The beauty of the PDF format was that one need not necessarily use the Adobe Reader to read it. The Foxit reader is faster, consumes less Resources, has more features and is also free like the Adobe. This gives the user the freedom of choice. A similar logic can be applied for movies. Play a movie in VLC, or any other player, which you like.

But DRM sadly is not. In most cases, the DRM implementation is proprietary and not compatible. For instance, if i Purchased a book via Amazon Kindle, and i like the IBooks reader better in the Ipad, i cannot play it. I have to only use the stock Kindle App. Big Nuisance, this is. It gets worse, in other conditions. I like to use the ‘Voice Dream App***’ which is a dedicated player, customized for individuals with ‘Attention and Reading difficulties like i do”. Its ‘TextToSpeech’ is seriously out of the world, and it plays non DRM documents really really well, as if a real Human was reading out to you. But sadly, these DRM books won’t allow you to open in such players.

3. The Monopoly – There have been allegations that when a famous Ebook services company purchased an ‘Audio Book’ company, it purposefully killed its automated ‘TextToSpeech’ app, since now users would be forced to pay for the much higher priced Audio Books, if they wanted to simultaneously access Reading the book, while parallely listening to a Voice reading the book in the background.

So, my conclusion is that while DRM has achieved some of the attributes of a physical book in the digital domain, it has failed strongly when it tries to balance the needs of legitimate Paying users and trying to stop Pirating users. This was an example of the ‘Seesaw Conundrum‘ that i was referring to earlier.

And the larger absurdity of the equation is that as long as Physical Books are in Sale, there are much easier ways to convert a pirated Ebook than to break a DRM code, or manually copy data from a licensed DRM encrypted Ebook. See below.

Potential_SourceFeeds_For_Pirated_Content

 

Audio* – You can locally download a song from a Saavn Server on an Ipad, if you are a Pro user, but cannot offload, like a non DRM’d music single .mp3 file.

Video** – Several YouTube and Google Play files can be cached locally on a device and played, but cannot be removed offline easily.

Voice Dream Reader*** – Under the ‘Book Share’ program, individuals like me are entitled to get limited access to Copyrighted books for a subsidized fee which can be read via the Voice Dream Reader app. I had sent them a link that i would prefer to register under my pseudonym and linked them to my Virtual world accounts, but i got no response. If i have to register my real name to get access, thank you very much. I get enough of Spam already and i have no frickin idea how my personal data will be used.

Understanding ‘Music Content Discovery’ and the future of Music consumption through Shazam..

As I have already said in several of my previous posts, one of the very basic aspects of building a business of any form over the Internet can be more successful through sharing of information, rather than hoarding it exclusively, because as we can see in this example, even the big Music Players like Itunes need the services of smaller music discovery Apps like SoundCloud SoundHound and Shazam to drive user traffic to their website.

Shazam is an app that allows users to record to any music playing in the surrounding and it maps the sound with its own database and provides the user with the details of the album/track and also links the user to places, where the music can be consumed/purchased legally. In a previous post which i had spoken about the HTC/SoundCloud SoundHound Integration ( see the Video), i had said that the audio data which was being received real time via the FM broadcast was pushed into a parallel pipe of the SoundCloud’s servers. I think that is not true, after i explored the Shazam app.

It is quite likely that like Shazam, Sound Cloud SoundHound too converts the real time music into a digital fingerprint and that fingerprint is sent to its servers, where it is mapped and the compared results of the album are provided. For this to happen successfully, it is only possible for an original reference copy of the album which should have been transformed into a reference Fingerprint, stored originally in Shazam’s servers. Only then can these apps match the finger prints and provide the user with the details of the album.

#1

So, what role is an app like Shazam playing in the current Indian legitimate music consumption Environment? As I have already said that currently, there are 2 types of legitimate music consumption. One is the Revenue Enhancer mode, where there are very few players left, and Itunes inevitably seems to be the king. ( Flyte is out.). The other one is the Piracy beater, Streaming model, where there is a whole lot of competition. There are several players in this segment – Saregama, Saavn, Dhingana(Rdio), Gaana, Wynk, Guvera etc. The latter environment is a largely competitive environment.

Last year, On April 3, 2013, Saavn and Shazam announced a partnership. The details can be seen here, and i quote from the website.

Music identification service Shazam today announced an exclusive new partnership with Saavn, the popular Indian music streaming service. The new partnership is supposed to give music fans a fun new way to discover the latest tracks from their favourite South Asian artistes in Bollywood and regional cinema

Shazam has already started mapping out Saavn’s library onto its music database. This could take a while since the announcement, given Saavn’s large library of not just Hindi but also regional music

The partnership between the two music-based apps will help Indian music fans figure out the name of songs and its artistes easily. Moreover, arrangement to purchase the music legally off iTunes is also being made by Saavn and Shazam. Listeners will also be able to share their finds with their friends on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ via Shazam. According to the announcement, more tracks from the inexhaustible collection of Indian music will be added every week to the partnered database.

The app partnership will widely cover popular genres such as bhangra, devotional, ghazals, Carnatic, Indipop and more. It will also encompass music in regional languages including Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada and Bhojpuri.”

So, over a year later, I have tested the Shazam app and seem to be reasonably happy with the results, and i present them to you, in an entirely Tamil context. So, let us see the potential of this app. Again, I did the same test, by testing a few songs that were playing live from an Fm station and a song that i had purchased from the now defunct ‘Flyte’.

#2Merged

Real time song discovery via FM or played in the background – As you can see that the App was able to bring out results, but its predictions don’t seem to work very well, always. Maybe, one reason is that, it has a larger database where it can push more Albums from music directors like Ilaiyaraja or Harris Jayaraj rather than a lyricist Vairamuthu. The only thing that was strange from that list was Ghajini, something, that i will come back to later. But, even in these 3 pictures, you can observe one thing. On discovering the album, the Shazam app is guiding users to Itunes and Saavn, which logically seems to be based on the agreement/partnership that was mentioned earlier, thereby providing Saavn an edge over its competitors, in this case.

Discovery of Rare songs – Most of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s must have heard hundreds of Ilaiyaraja’s tracks, without even knowing the name of the movie or having seen its visual. For e.g It is easy to associate ‘Maariyamma Maariyamma’ with Karakatakaaran, but how of us know which movie does the song ‘Raasathi Manasule” come from? It is Ramarajan’s movie, but how many of us know the name of the movie? What about ‘Amudhe Thamizhae?”, “Paaramal Paartha Nenjam?”, “Devadhai Ilam Dhevi Unnai Sutrum Aavi”.. Sure, we have heard these songs and know them, but do we know the names of the movies? So, this was a test, and here were the results.

#3-Ilaiyaraja_Vintage_Songs_Discovery

So, the app isn’t doing bad. However, when i fed the song ‘Katti Vechuko Endhan Anbu Manasa’, the App was not able to detect the song.

BGM – BGM is Ilaiyaraja and Ilaiyaraja is BGM. I fed the app a few BGM samples taken at Random. The app was not able to detect mid piece BGMs from Dharma Durai and Guru Sishyan, although some of them were very famous Motif’s, but it was able to detect the Title tracks of ‘Gopura Vaasalile’ && ‘Varusham 16’.

#4-BGM_Tracks

The Ghajini Mystery – This seemed like a bit of a mystery to me. Ghajini was taken as a Random sample, from the Fm Radio, and i found that the Shazam App was able to detect the album, initially. Much later, i observed strangely that there was No Itunes link in the Album, considering that almost all other detections had an Itunes link. This led me to check out Itunes directly to see if the Album was available. Surprisingly, I could find out only the Telugu Version of the same movie, again composed by Harris Jayaraj himself. The Tamil version of the same movie was not available in Itunes. Surprising.!

So, i played the Telugu version of the same Rangola Song from Youtube and started the Shazam App. Surprisingly, as the song unfolded, Shazam detected the Tamil version of the movie, initially. This, I could attribute to maybe, because both the Preludes and initial lyrics of both Tamil and Telugu versions were same. As the song continued to play in Youtube in its Telugu Lyrics, I ran the Shazam app again, and this time, it detectedly correctly, the Telugu Version of the Ghajini App, but even in that detection, it does not show the Itunes link for the telugu version of Ghajini, although the Telugu version of Ghajini is available in Itunes, which leaves me baffling?

The_Curious_Case_Of_Ghajini

To Summarize, an App like this provides two major benefits to the Copyright Ecosystem.

1. It helps fans detect and find music, legally.

2. Unlike other physical media like Text or Video, where Copyright information can be embedded via MetaData, In Audio, this can be lost easily. This phenomenon is called as ‘Attribution Erosion‘, and at times, can even lead to accidental plaigiarism. Apps like these can help fans or remixers trace original copyright holders for additional rights or permissions like Remixing their original works, for example.

‘Revenue Enhancer’ Modes Vs ‘Piracy Beater’ Modes

“Spotify really does not compete with Itunes, or with these retail store based services. Spotify directly competes with piracy, we are capturing users out of a piracy based environment and provide them unlimited access of music at their finger tips. They could share and sample music for free.” – Sean Parker, Spotify.

Piracy and online downloads had already deconstructed the album. You couldn’t compete with piracy unless you sold the songs individually. ” – Steve Jobs.

We live in times, where ‘Media Piracy‘ has become a definite ‘Way of life’. The Copyright Industry may not like it, but that is the way, it is. In fact, I’d like to think that ‘Piracy’ is one of the important issues that have emerged, evolved and continues to exist (or resist enforcement) as an important subset of the ‘Open Ecosystem‘ and ‘Digital Economy‘ of contemporary times. That may also be the reason, where you will find a lot of posts associated with ‘Media Piracy’ and ‘Copyright Infringement’ in this blog. It is also one of the main points of focus of my research.

There are two types of approaches used by Copyright Holders to generate returns and address the problem of Piracy – ‘Revenue Enhancer Modes‘ and ‘Piracy Beater Modes‘.( I don’t know if these terminologies have been coined by someone else, but in any case, I think that the names are quite apt.) Revenue Enhancer Modes typically are typically used to maximize profits, while Piracy Beater Modes are used to minimize losses. A Revenue Enhancer mode typically has little or no impact on Piracy, while a Piracy beater mode, if successfully scaled in ‘quantity sold/user views’ can cumulatively become a Revenue Enhancer.

Any business model or legitimate service that typically charges money for the consumption of legitimate copyrighted media content, without having a sizable impact on piracy (or no impact) is called a Revenue Enhancer. A business model or legitimate service that may or may not charge money directly from the user for consumption of legit copyright media, but which has the potential to disrupt the Pirates market is called a Piracy Beater. For e.g Selling a single music album ( consisting of 5 or 6 songs) in Itunes for Rs.100-120 can be called a Revenue Enhancer Mode, where as music subscription services that allow users to listen to music for free on the Internet and allow them to download Unlimited songs/albums for offline hearing at Rs.100-120/month for listening like Saavn, Gaana and Airtel’s Wynk can be an example for Piracy Beater modes.

A legitimate movie disc being sold locally for Rs.30 is an example of a piracy beater but when the same movie is provided online digitally to be viewed at a cost of Rs.30,  it is more equivalent to a Revenue Enhancer mode. This differentiation in understanding is important because a physical pirated disc costs Rs.20-30 whereas an online piracy service does not charge the customer any money at all, atleast not directly. So, when a legit provider provides a service online even for as low as Rs.25, it should be considered as a Revenue Enhancer mode. 

PiracyBeatersVsRevenueEnhancers

In today’s times, when the life span of a movie has shrunk down badly, Revenue Enhancers are best employed in the nascent stages of a movie or in the immediate aftermath of a music album’s release. After a certain point in time, ( typically days or weeks, or a month at max for a successful movie) returns from Revenue Enhancer modes start to shrink down. It is during the period of a revenue Enhancer that ‘Anti Piracy‘ activities or ‘Promotional‘ activities for a movie are also at their peak. Once the nascent time period is over, Piracy Beater modes start to become active. Revenue Enhancer modes typically fade into the background, while Piracy beater modes slowly take over. The arrival of Piracy Beater modes co-insides with slowly reducing PR activities and also declining Anti Piracy operations.

Revenue Enhancer Modes try to maximize revenue on a ‘Per Person basis’ while Piracy beater modes attempt to monetize on a ‘Mass Scale‘. More over, Legitimate revenue enhancer modes tend to leave possibilities (unavoidable in a modern Digital World) that can be exploited for infringers or Pirates. ( I plan to do a seperate post on this statement). Attempting to exploit PiracyBeater modes for such digital loop holes yield no additional benefits of any kind and are there fore logically irrelevant.

Revenue Enhancer Modes typically have no competition with Piracy beater modes, although Piracy Beater modes may compete with Revenue Enhancer Modes. For e.g a Legitimate copy of a movie can be seen freely on Youtube. If the same movie is available on other paid platforms like Google Play/Movies or Itunes, most users who have watched the movie for free on Youtube are less likely to watch the movie on the pay to watch services.

Thalaiva_PiracyBeater-RevenueEnhancer

One possible exemption to this broad characteristics of Revenue Enhancers and Piracy Beaters might be quick, first time broadcast of new cinema on private satellite TV. These days, first Broadcast on TV typically happens within 1 or 2 months, from the first theatrical release. Traditionally in the pre Internet years, a Tamil movie would be broadcast after a period of 2 years**. There was some sort of a minimum time period back then. With the advent of digital internet piracy, it simply doesn’t make sense to delay broadcast of a movie for so long. More over, in such a spurious environment, where every day gets delayed, the chances of the potential broadcast viewer seeing the movie, through a pirated disc simply increases.

So, modern day broadcast combines the best features of both modes. It attempts to generate revenue by ‘scaling in numbers’, ‘supported by advertisements’, which from the viewer’s point of view is like a Piracy Beater mode*, yet is done as soon as possible, now typically within weeks of a movie launch in Theatres, making it appear like a Revenue Enhancer mode, from the perspective of a Copyright holder.

*Unlike viewing a movie on an Internet service like Youtube, where advertisments are minimal, and the user experience is not disturbed, watching a movie on TV can be quite painful, considering the number of advertisements, played between the movie. No matter what the quality improvements, Broadcast TV it cannot compete with Piracy on the ‘uninterrupted’ front.

** Back in those days, the AD intro would sound, “Indhiya Tholaikaatchigalil mudhan murayaga”. These days it sounds “Thiraikku Vandha Sila Maadhangalile..”