If piracy went away, I'd be in hog heaven. Every TV episode I'd ever want to see would cost me a quarter each. I don't listen to much in the way of music, nor do I watch movies -- but I do like the old TV.
The reason we have piracy today is because people want IT (a particular song, episode, movie, whatever). If IT were always available without fear if it "going back into the vault" to be re-released in 10 more years (ala Disney kids' movies), the end of wholesale piracy would be at hand.
If the content we wanted would always be available when we wanted it, then non-criminal piracy (not-for-profit infringement) would drop by some large fraction (let's just say roughly 50%). The large-scale sharing that is going on is more an act of hoarding than it is of getting something for free. The convenience of the almost infinite selection of IT in a totally compatible format with the users' choice of current and future devices is the major factor -- especially among people that will pay the money for the content.
These customers that have the means and want the portability will choose the portability over the societal pressure to pay every time.
Within very short order, the resulting huge availability of content would drive content prices down, taking another large fraction of infringement (say 25% of the original) and practically all criminal (for-resale) piracy down.
Some in Hollywood want a perfect technical solution before they'll try it. There isn't one. But some are seeing the light and trying it now. The traffic at these sites (e.g. Hulu) are instantly huge.
Meanwhile, as online content continues to monetize and the reliable presence of content that you will want to see over and over again, whole new innovations set in. The money will follow whatever people do. Anywhere you leak, the world will hang a bucket.
The remaining 25% of the original question will be the fraction you'll never reach -- these are the guys who sneak in the back doors of theaters or will listen to the guitar player without ever paying a tip. They'll stand all day outside the ball park, peering through the knothole to watch the game without paying the admission.
They've always been with us. They always will.--
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- Hillsboro, Oregon
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