Streaming Kills Piracy

Yesterday morning I was talking to my 13 year old son Josh. He's currently obsessed with the TV show Friday Night Lights. He's going back and watching all the old seasons. I asked him how he is doing that, expecting to hear "bit torrent". But instead he said "Netflix Watch Instantly". I was so happy to hear that and asked him why. He said, "bit torrent takes too long."

And then this morning, I came across this story in The Guardian which talks about a collapse in illegal sharing and a commensurate increase in legal streaming. The story says 26% of 14 to 18 year olds shared music illegally last month compared to 42% in December of 2007. The story also says 65% of teens stream music regularly.

I've been talking about this trend for a long time. In my post about The Free Music Business a couple summers ago, I said this about file-based music versus streamed music:

Streaming music is better because it's abundant. I don't own all the
music in the world on my server. But almost every song ever recorded is
on the Internet somewhere.

I am not a fan of file-based media business models. They lead to piracy and they put transactional friction into a system that doesn't require it. Streaming is much better. Unfortunately, we don't have a good mobile broadband system to make streaming possible everywhere. And until that happens, we will have files and we will have piracy.

But the good news is that as the media business wakes up and puts all the media we want out there in streams available on the Internet (paid or free – this is not about free), we see people streaming more and stealing less.

We used to wonder if we could "untrain" a generation to steal. The answer is yes. Just make it easier to get the content they want and they'll stop stealing. It makes my day to read that.

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