Why this Kolaveri against netizens?

by Guruprasad



November 2011: The producers of movie “3”, as a part of their promotional activity, upload a song with catchy tune to Youtube titled “Why this Kolaveri Di?” (Why this rage againt me/us, Why did you do this to me/us?). The music becomes viral and gets zillions of clicks from netizens across the world, making it (both the music and Dhanush) an overnight success.

May 2012: We, the netizens who had made the “Kolaveri Di” a huge success are now asking “Why this Kolaveri Di?” because we feel that we have been suppressed of our rights. Someone whom we welcomed with open arms into our house seems to have backstabbed us by denying our rights!!

What happened? : The producers of the movie “3” in order to curb piracy of their upcoming movie have sought a court order to ban file sharing sites including rapidshare, torrents & even video upload sites like Vimeo.

Who is affected? : The same netizens who made Kolaveri a viral success. These are the people who download music videos and circulate them with friends, in turn making them popular. They attend concerts conducted by such celebrities who actually became celebrities due to these netizens.

Does banning such sites reduce Piracy? : NO. A pirated DVD costs just Rs 30-50 and sold on foothpaths these days. People who use internet usually spend upto Rs 1000 for broadband charges and form less than 5% of the audience while the other 95% of them have been buying such pirated DVDs anyway and will continue to do so.

Should torrents be banned because they contain pirated content? : Firstly, not everything in torrents are considered pirated. I prefer to call torrent as a global flattener. A friend who watches a TV series like “Prison Break” in the US, for the benefit of others, records the show and shares them on torrents so that people around the world who have no access to it will be able to watch it. Non commercial documentaries like “Zeitgeist” are shared using torrents and file-sharing sites and the producers of such content being “non-profit organizations” actually encourage viewers to share them for free with their friends in turn over such sites. Most of the linux distributions like Ubuntu share the install files over torrents legally for free. Video sharing sites like Vimeo are used by upcoming artists to showcase their talent. Some of them actually are hired by NGC & other studios after evaluating them in such sites. But yes, torrents can be used to distribute illegal/pirated content as well. Finally, the onus is on the user to make a choice between pirated and genuine content. But just because a platform can be used to shared pirated content does not justify a blanket ban on the platform which has other legal content as well.

Is piracy “bad karma”? : It depends. If you are an enterprise and plan to use pirated media/sofware, it is a punishable offence because you are actually trying to make a commercial product/solution using illegal content and seeking to make money by selling your solution. But if you are a home user who just wants to experiment something for non-commercial purpose, there is a fine line between being moral and immoral. You can always convince your conscience saying that you just intend to use a software one time which does not justify its price tag like $1000. Maybe you would like to use it for few days to learn it and after becoming a professional, you would purchase it anyway. (for example, Photoshop).

Why is there piracy in the first place? : Mainly because of uneven economic conditions. When software/media is priced appropriately in accordance to the economic conditions of a country, piracy does not become an issue at all. For example, today, an MP3 song costs $1 in the US where a coffee costs $4 and monthly average salary of middle class is $6000. Compare it to a typical Indian middle class monthly average salary of $1500 and a coffee in a posh outlet in India (like CCD) costs $1. Paying Rs. 56 for a song is simply absurd when you can actually get a decent meal for the same price here. That is the reason piracy is rampant in developing nations like India but not in US (although US also has piracy to some extent, it very less compared to India).

How can piracy be reduced? : As mentioned earlier, paying Rs 56 ($1) for a song is nominal in US but absurd in India. It has to be priced accordingly. People are willing to pay money but it should make sense. The same Indians are actually paying Rs. 1000 for monthly broadband, Rs 30-40K for a smartphone and Rs 50K for a laptop. It is not that they are very stingy and want to save on pennies by going for pirated tracks. Its just that they feel they are being ripped off. So, price them accordingly.

My only advice to the system: Address the root of the cause, rather than cutting down on its branches or symptoms.

I have always admired Steve Jobs not just for his passion & innovation but also for his ability to dive deeper into a problem and bring a solution by addressing the root cause. Yes, he was a businessman whose main aim was to bring money to his company but the way in which he accomplished them was exemplary. Watch this short clip from 2003 in which he introduced the revolutionalry digital music store which undoubtedly reduced piracy drastically in the US, and was a win-win for customers as well as artists & studios:

We need a visionary like Steve Jobs for the Indian economic business model as well to curb piracy.

As a mark of protest, I have decided not to watch the movie “3” and neither share/watch any of the producers’ offering or Dhanush’s works until the court ban is reverted..