Recently there has been a big issue about copyright on the internet. In my opinion this has started to get ludicrous. I believe I have an idea to solve the problem of internet piracy – or rather make it a non issue.

Before I come on to my idea I first want to talk generally about the internet. The internet does not exist in the real world. There are some things which are ‘crimes’ on the web that couldn’t possibly be crimes in the real world. I heard someone suggesting that Google maps should be taken down because it could be used to plan a bank robbery. This is as silly as saying a shoe shop should be fined because bank robbers wear shoes!

There was even one case I heard of, a law that I don’t think came to be, where someone could be charged for linking to an illegal video. Which is like being charged for giving directions to a bank robber.

What I’m trying to show here is that on the internet there seem to be different rules. If these crimes were placed in the real world people wouldn’t have been charged.

The issue of copyright is more complex. Obviously if you made copies of DVDs it would be a crime and there would be a legitimate recourse for a person to be charged. However what I think is being missed in the discussion is that piracy is not the huge problem people seem to think it is.

I’ve recently bought ‘The Big Bang Theory‘ on DVD. I have only encountered this series because of You Tube. After viewing many clips on the internet I really enjoyed the series.

All these clips were on the web illegally but they showed me a series I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. Similarly I have been reminded of series by You Tube. I’ve started to buy TNG as well and that hasn’t been on TV for years.

The point of this is that you tube acts as free advertisement for these television programs. They encourage discussion of these programs and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has made a purchase as a direct result of You Tube.

As well as clips there are also entire episodes uploaded to You Tube. In this instance I can more easily understand the production company’s problem. This is where I get onto my idea.

Watching an episode of something on the web is tiresome. They are usually in several parts and often they take time to load. However the important thing is that they can be viewed.

Here is what I propose:

Companies could release their television programmes and films freely on the internet. These should be divided into ten minute chunks with an advert at the beginning and middle of each chunk. The adverts obviously enable the company to pay for this service. This would mean that people can view the content without having to pay for it. However watching a program in this way is tiresome and annoying. What it would do however is give people exposure to these programs and films. This, I believe, would then lead to the generation of sales.

This is what companies often seem to miss is that giving stuff away can often be advantageous. Perhaps my idea is too radical but a company could allow the first two or three episodes to be shown for free – that could be a hook for sales as well. Yet these companies seem bent on clamping down on every tiny clip on you tube. This has even happened to Sfdebris – he does reviews of television and film which should come under the category of fair use.

The icing on the cake of this issue it that there have been instances of people giving stuff away and still making money. Some ask people to give what they think the product is worth, others make the product free once a certain amount of profit has been reached and their have also been people who have a free version and a priced version of the same product. Guess what some people still choose to buy.

I think this is the key for digital media. Release it for free on the web in some inferior format, with adverts or low resolution, that enables people to see your work. Then if people want the high quality version they have to pay out more money.

My final message to these companies is this: If you search You Tube and find clips of your programme remember this – people are able to see it – they discuss it – and maybe, maybe they even buy it. While there is no way to test this I believe that illegal clips on You Tube have boosted sales.

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