Last week's News
News article for the week of 2/7/06.
Piracy Image No Longer Profitable
By, Grey Business
The days of scraggly beards, eye patches, peg legs and hooks are well
and truly over. In recent years the image of the high seas pirate has
taken a beating, affecting industry profits as a result.
Though the image above is purely mythological it lies at the heard of
modern pirate success, whether it be an Indonesian based cutthroat looting
ships that blunder by or a Caribbean centred entrepreneur robbing tourists
as a part of the local colour.
All are important features of regional economies, stimulating the black-market
and second hand stores. Indeed, many of the supposed cheap knockoff products
seen in the markets and bazaars surrounding tourist traps now contain
genuine products thanks to high seas looting.
However a new breed of piracy is overshadowing its naval counterpart.
Software and music piracy now features much more prominently in the media,
holding more attention.
While these activities, on the large scale, are also an important factor
in local economies, despite a lower immediate employment rate the average
distribution network can provide opportunities internationally, they lack
the pure flash and excitement that attracts so many to the high seas.
The fallout for water-based pirates is that the weaker image is beginning
to take hold in the public imagination, undermining piratical efforts
around the world.
One poor member of a Haitian based crew was reduced to tears when cruise
ship passengers called him “nerd”, “tech geek” and “Bill Gates Fanboy”.
Some passengers even demanded that he set up their newly acquired computer
equipment bought from the bazaars.
One ship operating in the South China Sea found itself being asked about
its DVD selection. When it was revealed that all they had were a few Disney
movies from a previous unfortunate heist the crew and passengers of the
target vessel became extremely uncooperative, eventually causing almost
as much damage to the pirates as they had received.
Pirate chiefs are considering a number of moves, from increased activities
to showcase their abilities to allowing documentaries to be made of their
work, possibly even borrowing the concept of the embedded journalist.
Unfortunately this requires the cooperation of the media.
Normally this would not be a problem except that the music and entertainment
industry is the hardest hit by software and music piracy and are unlikely
to allow any attention away from their hated nemesis.
There are a few networks that would be more than happy to work with the
pirates, however distribution and airtime would be limited, as would any
benefits of such shows.
Ironically there was a time when the added ignorance would have been a
boon, aiding in the surrender and capitulation of target vessels, even
netting some support and respect. Now it is costing fear and respect,
without which no pirate band can operate.
A final option being tabled is to have software and music pirates renamed,
with oceanic pirates claiming first right to use the title. Redirecting
the small PR effort of the music companies would require little effort
and prove to the world how monolithic and iron fisted they are.