back to article Pirates not to blame for Big Media's sales plunge

The RIAA and MPAA would have you believe that piracy is responsible for their decline in sales. This is all of course blame to be laid at the feet of computers, the internet and the generic "digital boogyman." Even without getting deep into the flawed math in play, there are other reasons for the middling returns on investment …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Can't disagree on any point.

    1. DJV Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      Yes, a good article. It ticked all the boxes for me as well. I especially liked the sentence "Novelling their way through the decades until – like Commodore or Atari – only the name remains." And, for some of the other companies mentioned (such as Oracle), it can't happen too soon IMHO!

    2. Shades

      I disagree... on one (slightly OT) point

      "cheap but "good enough" technologies spanning from Red cameras"

      Between their "entry level" Scarlet-X (30fps @ 4k res) costing $9,700.00, the Red One (120fps @ 4k) commanding $25,000.00 and their Epic-M (120fps @ 5k res) coming in at a whopping $39,500.00 - all of which are bare bones* units - Red cameras are neither cheap nor merely "good enough".

      *No lense mounts, no lenses, no storage, no nothing!

      1. B-D

        Re: I disagree... on one (slightly OT) point

        Absolutely, how the RED range can be considered "indie" is beyond me, maybe if the bar bill was bigger than the rest of the production costs, but that's neither here nor there.

        The Canon 5D Mark II however, that camera almost certainly shook up the indie film scene.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: I disagree... on one (slightly OT) point

          You are confusing "indie" and "art." Indie films - true indie films looking to make a real movie - have backers and some form of budget. But they don't have the budget of a real blockbuster. The Red gives you the ability to shoot blockbuster-quality for a tenth or even hundredth the price of traditional cameras.

          I am not talking about your pet cat videos on youtube. I am talking about honest-to-god indie films that go “mainstream” and make millions at the box office. Hits that occur outside the framework of the traditional establishment.

          But emphatically *not* your wanky angsty art film.

          Though even for the wanky angsty art film, there is a booming industry in renting RED cameras for such projects, and the cost of rental is WAY below that of other comperable-quality cameras.

          1. Anonymous Coward


            Thanks Trevor_Pott. So it's a comment towards affordable "movie quality" over affordable "high quality" that the article is pointing to. One being a small professional studio job, the other an individual or hobby job. Both still being miles under the millions needed for a Hollywood flick.

            "The more you know..."

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: @Trevor_Pott

              Wife is an actress. Trust me, I never wanted to know any of it at all. But you learn things...

              1. Eddy Ito

                Re: @Trevor_Pott

                "But you learn things..."

                So... "is she interested in photographs?... nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more."

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: @Trevor_Pott

                  Even were I to post a link, would you honestly be stupid enough to click it? ;)

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: @Trevor_Pott

                    "would you honestly be stupid enough to click it? ;)"

                    Are you new here?

                    1. Danny 14 Silver badge
                      Thumb Up

                      Re: @Trevor_Pott

                      sure. but not on my PC.

                  2. Tom 13

                    Re: stupid enough to click it?

                    Me, probably not, although as a known author on El Reg you at least have some credibility points.

                    But I'm sure you'd get some takers.

                    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                      Re: stupid enough to click it?

                      Tom, buddy, I have some bad news for you.

                      I'm a commenttard. I was a such an unbelievably loud and obnoxious commenttard that they decided "if you are going to write novels in the comments section, then you should be writing articles instead. We can advertise against those more and make more money." Good business. I approve.

                      Before being a commenttard here, I was a forum whore elsewhere. Still am. I was a USENET regular and a BBS user. I connected up my first 300 baud modem to talk to other people (with help) over the computernets when I was only 4 years old. I built my first LAN at 8.

                      For all intents and purposes I am “from the internets.” In an article, I have to attempt to achieve some modicum of professionalism and respectability. But in the comments section – here, there, anywhere across the wide, wide interbutts – the urge to troll the pants off someone can be completely overwhelming.

                      Never trust a link posted on a forum. There are things you can’t unsee. There is knowledge you cannot unlearn. In an article, you probably wouldn’t get trolled. In a comment where I was making a technical point and backing up with evidence, it might be safe to assume that links will be relevant.

                      But regardless of occupation or hobby, if you ask someone (even jokingly) for “tits or GTFO” of their old lady…

                      …you’d have to be a complete moron to click that link.

                      Particularly if the individual in question is perfectly capable of slapping together a website that flashes a series of images that you would wish you could burn from your mind with an acetylene torch while in the background a dozen different cross-browser, multi-operating system zero days are pwning your machine, emailing dongs to your contact list, uploading everything on your hard drive to a torrent site, spreading to every system on your network, and then dbanning the whole thing.

                      The internets; here there be dragons.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: I disagree... on one (slightly OT) point

        News out today

        2.5K resolution for < $3K and a lot better workflow and usability than a Red or a Phantom or Arri

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: I disagree... on one (slightly OT) point

          Only way to compete with RED is to continue the commoditisation they started. :)

      3. goldcd


        but most (I believe) film kit is rented. I'd have assumed the cost of renting some kit for a few weeks and then spending a few months of post-production on your laptop, is massively cheaper than hiring film cameras, buying film stock and having to rent the edit suite for the duration of post.

      4. Pinky

        @Shades: "cheap" is relative

        Comparing the specs of the Epic-M with the Sony F-950 (the last camera I worked with), I'd say the Red gear is definitely cheap. In a previous life (seems like aeons ago now), I was building accessories for Sony, Thomson GV, etc that cost more than the Red chassis.

        The cost of the lenses, mounts, storage etc are the same no matter what kit you buy, so "good enough" is right.

        For the sake of full disclosure, my boss at that time is now with Red, and the accessories have been integrated into the Red product line.

      5. sisk

        Re: I disagree... on one (slightly OT) point

        $10k-$30k sounds pretty cheap for a camera capable of shooting a real movie to me. When you consider that most cameras in Hollywood are in the six figure price range that's dang cheap.

  2. Ru

    "democratised content creation"

    Hurrrrgh. What an awful web2.0ism. I shall forgive you just this once.

    Granting people the means to create things just goes to show that:

    1. It is harder than it looks, and

    2. There are an awful lot of really talentless people out there.

    Sadly, Big Content don't seem to understand (2), and has spent a fair amount of time inflicting the products of those sort of people upon us, without the benefit of the zero overheads that the monkeys on the internet have.

    A "democratisation" of stupidity, perhaps. Reality TV is a perfect example.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: "democratised content creation"

      " There are an awful lot of really talentless people out there."

      Yup, and it used to be more on the web than on telly but the web is getting more pro while the telly is catering more and more for the noise and gloss and glitz.

    2. Schultz

      Re: "democratised content creation"

      I have to second Elmer Phud: A lot of talentless people must have found their way into the mainstream media. Not that the falling height is all too great.

      All TV content is stretched to the breaking point, trying to make it into the next advertisement break without introducing a new thought, trying to hold on to a few listless zombies which may or may not have gone for the next beer ...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Microsoft's Windows 8 is something of a Hail Mary

    They'd have been better sticking with what they usually do - an 'In Nomine Satanas'.

  4. Darryl

    It looks like the tech companies are all falling under the same spell as manufacturing did 10-20 years ago, where the only thing that matters is this year's bottom line. If you can close a few plants or offices and lay off a few thousand people, the 'cost savings' make the share holders some money this year and keep the execs in jobs and bonuses. Who cares about five or ten years down the line? That'll be the next CEO/board's problem.

    1. YetAnotherBob

      Business Profiteering

      Standard Harvard Business School. They teach that the job of a corporate executive is to maximize profits this quarter, then take the money and run.

      Of course, the best way to make huge profits on a short basis is to sell the factory, gut anything longer term than later this year, and then have the board award you (and it) HUGE bonuses. Then, you can use your resume as a "Top CEO" to get on another company, or to join the Board of another couple of corporations.

      Harvard started teaching this in the 1960's, it came to the fore in the 1970's, and America got all outsourced by the 1980's. It's now standard MBA program world wide.

      New industry wasn't quite in that way of doing things yet, so the new "High Tech'" survived. But, they are now being migrated from the ranks of 'New Startups' to 'Professionally Managed' (read MBA managed) corporations. So, expect the life of a Tech Titan to be about 20 years.

      By the way, Apple and Microsoft are both now about 30 years old. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both gone. Microsoft no longer has most of it's workforce in the US, and Apple no longer owns any factories. Like HP, where the generation after Hewlett and Packard have all been replaced with "Professional Managers". It's not any wonder that HP is going rapidly downhill. Microsoft and Apple will follow.Whitman and company are not real HP. Eisner was not Walt for Disney. It's the victory of the vacuous and ruinous.

  5. Jop

    Buying patents and then suing those who infringe them seems to be a major money maker for tech companies lately. It will all end in tears...

    Great article!

    1. YetAnotherBob

      It's just Monopoly in Action. Governement involvement in economies always messes things up.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Novelling their way

    Allow me to raise my hat in honor of these fine fellows at El Reg. They said it brilliantly.

    1. Tom 35

      Re: Novelling their way

      Some may Nortel their way...

      Do ANYTHING to keep the stock price going up (as if that is the actual product) until everything just blows up.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    someone else's fault

    The problem is always "someone else's fault," and the critical eye never turns inwards.

    My wife comes to mind.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't matter

    I could care less what sales are for the RIAA or MPAA. All I care is that pirates and hackers go to prison for their crimes. Denial isn't a river in Egypt.

    1. Escape Velocity

      Re: Doesn't matter

      Would that prison time be for the lewdness or the criminal consumption of trans-fats?

      1. YetAnotherBob

        Re: Doesn't matter

        No, Piracy should be a criminal, even capitol crime. Real pirates kill people, rape women, steal, burn ships, extort an so forth. Indonesia has cracked down on it's pirates, Somalia is the current largest supporter of real piracy. Real Piracy has always been an act warranting war.

        RIAA and MPAA (often collectively referred as MAFIAA) don't care about real piracy, they only care about imaginary piracy, which they affirm is drastically reducing their imaginary sales. It isn't real piracy, it's just copying without permission. But, there isn't that much of it going on. that's because what the MAFIAA are selling isn't worth copying.

        Oh, and one more thought the Parent Poster is wrong, Really, denile IS deriver in Egypt. It's even on demap!!

    2. Juiceman

      Re: Doesn't matter

      Just how much do the media companies pay per post, or are you salaried?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Doesn't matter

        He doesn't need to be paid to be correct. Trying to rationaize piracy is futile. The courts ain't going to tolerate piracy and new laws are being implemented to punish pirates even more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Doesn't matter

          Lets call it what it really is first, it is Copyright Violation

          IF someone was to download a film without the copyright holders permission (i.e. from a torrent site)

          They are violating their copyright, and they can be taken to the civil courts, but it is not a criminal offence.

          If they distribute said film without taking any payment, then they can be be taken to the civil courts, but it is not a criminal offence.

          BUT if they take that film, stick it on DVD's and then sell them at a car boot sale, they are committing a crime and the POLICE can arrest them and they can face fines/jail from criminal courts.

          Things are different around the world, but copyright is a strange beast.

          I am a content creator so I do care about Copyright Violation, but I also don't treat my customers as criminals when they are not.

          The only thing you can say about downloads is they MIGHT be impacting sales, you cant say 100% they are.

          One thing though, If they provided a non DRM'd digital copy of films/tv, many people would buy that rather than download.. I buy my music online rather than CD's and rip them, simply because its easier now than it used to be and I can get MP3's with no drm!

        2. JEDIDIAH

          Cruel and Unusual.

          He doesn't need to be paid to be a shill for his masters. Just watch and episode of the Tudors and see how enthusiastic the peasants are about the King.

          Your rhetoric about piracy is ultimately irrelevant as current punishments are grossly inappropriate.

          Punishment is fine. Just make sure that it fits the crime. Something like piracy should be along the lines of a speeding ticket or a jaywalking ticket. A single infraction or "set of facts" should get you no more than actual shoplifting would.

    3. Anonymous C0ward

      <-- Don't feed it.

    4. Heathroi

      Re: Doesn't matter

      Because lobbying the government to pass laws and getting the courts to stuff people interested in your product is an excellent way to build your business, yet doesn't stop the torrents.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next Step, please

    Nice rant! I agree with it completely.

    And now that we have heard about the *symptoms*, the next step, please:

    What is the *diagnosis* of the causes? Everyone just getting stupider by the quarter? Or greedier?

    1. Marshalltown

      Re: Next Step, please

      The answer is that busniess is a "dairy" situation and that isn't cream you find floating on top. The situation Mr. Potts describes is not limited to high tech either. Take a gander at the history of US automotive companies for instance, or commuminications, even labour sad to say. There seems to be a natural progression from innovation to an presumption of entitlement. Companies sometimes fight their way through a period of it - IBM has at least once, and so has Apple (but they're headed right back into it). Ellison has perpetually tended to treat his customers as cattle or sheep whom he is entitled to milk or fleece for minimal out going benefits. If the customers are even slightly brighter than your average carrot, sooner or later they leave for more beneficent climes.

  10. irish donkey

    Where the pirate witch hunter general? AO

    He will rein fire and brimstone down on you for such blasphemous words.

    dissent will be crushed. Nothing must stand in the way of progress... opps sorry progress must be stopped if it affects our bottom line.

    No nothing must change…… our profits must go up or else we will legislate, sue punish and imprison

  11. Anonymous Coward 101


    I'm pretty sure there is more to the failure of AOL etc. than lack of investment. All of those companies were on a hiding to nothing against better competitors. I seem to recall Nokia investing rather a lot of money trying to make a new OS and bringing Symbian up to modern consumer expectations.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: R&D

      Sure there is! They each in turn became obsessed with something or someone outside the company and allowed it to distract them. Nokia kept SHIFTING FOCUS of its R&D. It would invest in it...but it would get impatient and pull the funding before a final product could ever really be reached.

      They were cashing the market leaders instead of trying to simply make one product and make it well. Constantly trying to be someone else (multiple someone elses!) ended up with them in fact being nobody.

      If you want to succeed, then get a skunkworks going, DON'T give them direction every quarter, fund them to whatever level you are capable fo doing so, and let them produce you something novel. Don't Microsoft up a Courier and then kill it.

      If you can't stomach R&D yourself, then send out your scouts looking for the new and the novel, not the “it’s more or less like what that other major competitor has on the market.” By the time you get your copycat product on the streets, they will have 80% of the market and you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

      Microsoft had the right of it with Kinect: buy the technology from some third-party research team, make a few minor tweaks, and bolt it on to your console…presto! Something nobody else has. Don’t make a different version of the motion controller that Nintendo has. Nintendo already stole the market for it!

      No, the issues here are manifold. Treating R&D like a cost center, quarterly revenue based short-sightedness, and focusing on someone of something external to the detriment of understand what it is you do, and making sure you do it really well.

      Take Apple; they make a comparative handful of products. Far fewer SKUs than Microsoft, HP, or pretty much any of the other tech titans. But they had a megalomaniac with severe OCD fret over every single detail of every single product for over a decade. It created a corporate culture that caused runaway success. Focus on the product, ignore the competition.

      Where do Apple start to fall down? The Jihad against apple was a personal vendetta, there was no business sense to it. Cook is looking for a way out and for a damned good reason.

      Not listening to customers. Every time there’s a real complaint against Apple, it boils down to treating customers like the enemy. (Final Cut Pro X!) If Apple would take customer issues to heart – and be a little bit more friendly with their customer engagement – then they would own the emotional loyalty of the majority of the population as well.

      They could get away with treating their customers like cattle for a long time because they simply made better widgets than the next guy. The growth market there is ending; they have addressed the needs and desires of the bulk of the bell curve, growth now lies in addressing the corner cases.

      The beauty of it is that their ardent refusal to talk about products until they are ready to ship is one of the smartest moves in tech. Sure, journalists hate it, but fans LOVE it. You can speculate all you want, but you know that when an Apple product is officially shown, it will be ready to BUY right away. No Asus MeMO that looks like sex on roller skates then quietly disappears, never to be heard from again.

      But they are learning. They backed down on Final Cut Pro X. Mountain Lion looks to address as many of the complaints about Lion as possible while still keeping the overall direction that Apple is aiming for. They are a ruthlessly efficient corporate megalith that already understands everything I wrote about here.

      Red Hat is another I would throw on the pile as “getting it.” To a greater or lesser extent extent, Rackspace, Arista, Intel, Palo Alto Networks, F5 and Citrix all seem to grasp this as well.

      Do what you do best. Don’t chase after the seemingly tantalising treasures that others have already claimed. Don’t get caught up in CEO catfights with other companies. Don’t lose sight of the long term while chasing quarterly gains.

      Don’t treat your own customers like the enemy. Listen to your customers and do your best to meet their needs. If you can’t or choose not to meet the needs of your customers, respect your customers enough to tell them why.

      It’s not that hard to understand. But it does seem anathema to modern megabusiness.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: R&D

        "Jihad against ANDROID." But you bright chaps knew what I meant.

    2. Tom 35

      Re: R&D

      Nokia had too many managers all trying to push R&D at the latest trend. So they just ended up herding cats. Lots of effort but no results.

      Unlike HP who made ads about cat herding

      but outsourced it all to India. Costs less, but still no results.

  12. Keep Refrigerated
    Thumb Up

    Nailed It!

    Also, I think part of the problem, for middle men publishers/distributors, is a confusion over what their business model was about. They didn't sell music, they've never sold music, they're distributors. Taking a voice only available in one location, packaging and delivering it worldwide.

    They provided distribution and advertising for the artist, in return they charge the receiver of music (and via loan to the artist) for the delivery. - in the same way that UPS charges for packaging and delivery of goods from a online store (the next industry in decline when 3d printing takes off).

    The internet was a major gift to them but like Kodak, rather than embrace digital they tried to protect the old method of storing images.

    Instead of finding ways to fulfil their business priority of distribution utilising the internet, they've hurt themselves by trying to artificially slow or stop such methods.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nailed It!

      That post sounds like the things they will write in history books. :(

    2. Kobus Botes
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nailed It!

      Part of the problem also arose when they (specifically the recording industry, later followed by Hollywood) decided that they were sellers of media (vinyl, CD, tape, etc.), rather than distributors of content.

      At least, that is how I interpreted their actions in going after customers who taped records in order to be able to listen to their music elsewhere.

      My take has always been that, when I buy an LP (or CD), I actually buy the right (or a licence, if you will) to listen to the music on the album, as often as I like where I like and when I like. So, if I wanted to listen to ELP while driving, for instance, I taped it, since there were no viable record players for cars at the time. And this philosophy still applies.

      Big media's take on it, however, has seemingly always (ever since the technology to do so cheaply and easily became available) been that you buy the media, so, if you want to listen to an album you bought whilst driving or jogging, you had to go out and buy a tape, as taping an album was considered theft.

      In other words, their attitude was that the important bit is the media that the content came on, and not the content itself.

      The other part of the problem arose when music turned into a money-generating commodity (as opposed to entertainment and enjoyment, for instance) and they started to dictate to artists what they should produce and how often, heavily promoting and pushing it in order to drive sales, rather than producing quality merchandise that will sell on the basis of its own merit (I know, I am generalising terribly here, but otherwise the post will become way too long).

      It would be interesting to see what the difference in quality of music is between that produced by Big Media and Indie producers (if any). By quality I mean musical and lyrical merit, as well as longevity (in other words, would I still want to listen to that music next year or in twenty years, rather than throw it away after a week or so when the Next Big Hit/Artist comes along).

      Subjectively it seems to me as if more of the good stuff lately comes from Indie companies, but then, my taste mostly goes against the popular stuff in any case.

      1. YetAnotherBob

        Re: Nailed It!

        For me, the difference is already there. I don't buy many DVD's. Never have. I do buy some that are greatlyt reduced in price. (Seldom pay more than 10 Dollars, rarely more than 7.) but, lately, I don't buy DVD's at all. It's just to easy to go to Hulu or Netflicks and stream.

        Much the same with music. The music I like isn't really mass popular. I prefer Classical, Baroque or Renassiance. The folks who produce it are seldom given much shelf space. But, I can go online and find lots that is quite reasonable. Smaller orchestras are often the best venue for unusual stuff, and radio stations online are sometimes the easiest way to find these things.

        'Albums' of classical from small town orchestras or even selected high schools and colleges are really quite good enough for casual listening.

        My son, who is really into Techno can only ever find that online. Same goes for real ragtime or swing.

        Now, what is the purpose of these large Media Consortia again???

  13. pip25
    Thumb Up

    One of the best articles I've read on El Reg since a while

    The parallel between content creators and IT was surprising, but at the same time shockingly accurate. Thank you for this intriguing perspective; more stuff like this please.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Excellent article, but...

      Xacti is a good example. But RED was the first one. It changed the market. Drove digital adoption. Before RED everything was 10, 100 times as expensive. After RED, everyone raced to drive the cost down.

      Honestly, I chose the RED for a reason. It was singlehanded responsible for driving a sea change in pricing and usability. There is a great article on it here, but alas, it requires creds to read the full text.

  15. Mike Flugennock

    Excellent article, but...

    ...I can't see how the "Red" cameras democratize content creation. Have you seen the prices on those goddamn' things?

    Now, a Sanyo Xacti, at around $US125 -- that's democratization.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Excellent article, but...

      > Have you seen the prices on those goddamn' things?

      Seen the sticker price on a Panaflex?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Excellent article, but...

        Why does anyone care about the purchase price of camera bodies - I thought you were talking about making movies not opening a hire shop.

        My outrage at such a maddeningly glib "assessment" of what is wrong with the modern world, starting with a disconnected and inaccurate analogy about movie making, paled into insignificance after seeing the horde of dimwitted me-too-ers rushing in to praise such a load of sloppy, inarticulate nonsense.

        Usually "cutting the cord" means "I stopped paying my TV licensing fee" and it is (to continue the sloppy journalism style) almost always motivated by a tight-fisted stinginess and a self-regarding sense of superiority to the common man's forms of entertainment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Excellent article, but...

          We've not had a TV for more than 8 years. I firmly believe that the significant reduction / elimination of intrusive, thought-disrupting adverts and poor-quality reality shows and soaps has made me and my family better, less material people with better attention spans. Our children are also better behaved, although TV is only going to be one factor in the domestic setup.

          That said, it has left us with a lot less to talk about to the majority of people, so I guess I can't argue with the charge of a sense of superiority (right up to the point of admitting that my wife watches "Made in Chelsea" online - oh, the shame...).

  16. Ashley Stevens


    My view is that it's all about lack of respect. Big content doesn't respect its customers, but neither does it respect its content suppliers either. At the moment NBC is ruining most of its content by splattering adds for Betty White over the lower 3rd of the screen. I don't know who she is, but she sure ruins the rest of the content that they put out. I find it hard to believe that content creators allow their output to be mis0used in this way, but I guess they have no say in the matter? Let's hope the indie movement takes hold and more content becomes available without the Betty White adverts and other distractions in the lower 3rd of the screen.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Respect

      I think Betty White makes cake mixes.

      1. TheRealRoland

        Re: Respect

        No, that's Betty Crocker, sister of that singer, Joe Crocker ;-)

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Respect

        Betty White is the sister of Barry White - she's a soprano soul singer

    2. Vic

      Re: Respect

      > I don't know who she is

      Betty White does the audio versions of the Peterotica books.



  17. Shadowmanx2009
    Thumb Up

    Great Article

    Well written, clear and concise, just what we need! It's a pity that the audience that it is aimed at are not interested in listening!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Great Article

      I don't think it's aimed at those who are not listening. Just at those sitting there thinking "am I the only sane one left"? Hopefully, the answer is no. :P

  18. Mark 110

    Excellent article

    Can't argue with any of it.

    Another facet that has been bugging me lately is the lack of competition in the IT industry. Pretty much 3 or 4 major players in the data centre / server / services sector - HP / IBM / CSC / Accenture, etc. And if anyone trys to compete they get bought. Really needs some regulation - stop them crushing competition with their wallets and make them compete on product and price. Build their owntechnology and customer base rather than buy someone elses.

    The article made me realise that exactly the same thing happened in the music and movie industries. Where once there were scores of record labels and a score of big movie studios if you now actually look at the ownership of big media rtheres 2/3 players in both sectors, even though they are still often trading on the old brands. And the competition and innovation dried up.

    The parallels are extraordinary.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excellent article

      Thought you were talking about Australian Banks for a moment there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excellent article

      I guess it depends on the scope of the contract being discussed, but there are a lot of big players in services (ACS, Infosys - or is it Unisys, I always get those two mixed up) and depending on industry (Dell is a big player in Healthcare - there are lots of specialist houses for government work) or size of the contract (the smaller the contract, and there are all sorts of new names that tend to pop up) there are a pretty good variety of competitors for most contracts I've been involved with.

      Just to share a little insight, but all of those players in the services biz are pulling their hair out trying to figure out what to do about Microsoft coming into the market and - in effect - giving their software away... or competing with AWS or a Rackspace when it comes to provisioning capacity in a timely manner.

      Trust me, there is no shortage of companies scrapping for those services dollars, although - and maybe this is your concern - with very large contracts there are few players that can qualify.

      1. YetAnotherBob

        Re: Excellent article

        It's nothing new. Remember Netscape? Stacker? Borland? Lotus 1-2-3? Microsoft has been doing this kind of thing for over 30 years now.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Roll on...

    Reprap? :D

  20. KjetilS

    +100 internets to you Trevor

    This is probably the best article I've read on this site this year

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: +100 internets to you Trevor

      Very kind of you to say, sir. Personally, I think a lot of Richard, Iain and Rik's science articles are light years beyond anything I could pen (El Reg has lots of good writers, IMHO)...but I'll not pass up a compliment when its offered! :)

      Beer, becuase the workday is almost over, I've more articles to write, and there's a chair at the pub perfectly formed to my arse.

  21. stu_san

    Market change

    Maybe "the new open" projects like Openstack or the Raspberry Pi are the beginning of a successful "indie tech" movement. Maybe not; market changes like that take decades, and it is far too early to call it.

    Well, maybe, but we have seen markets (and titans) sink faster than that. In the mid 80s, DEC was the company that could do no wrong. By the early 90's it was dead (along with the "minicomputer" market). IBM skated dangerously close to the end of the "big iron" market. (I'm not sure how "big iron" lived through that period, and with the "cloud" we may be heading for another "big iron" test).

    Markets can and have changed radically just about overnight. It only takes a few innovations to break to the old market model.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Market change

      ''and with the "cloud" we may be heading for another "big iron" test).''

      Technically, 'big iron' was the 'cloud' before clouds. Think LPARs.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Or the RIAA can just sue you into dust.....

    Path of least resistance on the media Highway to Hell (they'll probably want me to give a nickel to AC/DC's label for that reference). Half of the RIAA staff probably are lawyers, after all.....

    1. YetAnotherBob

      Re: Or the RIAA can just sue you into dust.....

      no, they outsource that. There are a near limitless number of Lawyers who will take a case on only commission. So, it costs the RIAA nothing. Why pay for what they can get for free?

      RIAA only has a few hundreds of employees. They are after all, really only a vehicle to get around anti-competition laws in the EU and US. Same with MPAA, but it's even smaller as a real organization. Mostly secretaries and lobbyists.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The power of emotion

    Music and video can both bypass the critical faculties and deeply affect us.

    That has been abused by the content industries because "emotional" is far easier to do than "clever." That's why reality TV has "evictions", it isn't to see who is the best, its to create drama and a sense of impending doom.

    The problem is, that its been done for so long that we have become hardened, or maybe its just me getting old. Hard rock from the 70s and 80s now seems quaint. The only way to make media more interesting is to raise the stakes. More sex, more violence. We can't show more sex without it being obviously porn, so at least one gay character is added to every show. It helps us feel "liberal" and gives the opportunity for fabulous interior decor. Eventually we'll have to add Furries, but that's a problem for another writer. BTW, I've copyrighted the idea of shutting a group of people with more unusual sexual predilections in a confined space and giving them lots of alcohol and a choice of bladed weapons. Endermol can get lost.

    Sadly, even the fancy Downton Abbey appears to be a flimsy modern story dressed up in elegant old clothes, rather than a good solid story. It makes Pride & Prejudice look deep.

    Perhaps if the networks allowed writers to complete a story with witty dialogue and an interesting and finite plot, things might go rather better than trying to squeeze ten series from a simple concept.

    Now gerroff my lawn, I want to get back to reading Henry V, Part 1.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spinning to defend piracy is futile

    It never works.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spinning to defend piracy is futile

      Calling copyright infrigement "piracy" is futile, and so is detracting from the points discussed by bringing up an unrelated matter.

  25. MonkeyScrabble
    Thumb Up

    Spot on in this, although every single company in the world is the same.

    To use a phrase, "teaching would be an enjoyable profession if you didn't have to deal with the kids".

    Every company hates their customers. They are stupid, annoying and cause problems by demanding "product" and "improvement".

    Take an examples of banking. Banks want to be left alone to trade commodities, make profit, raise their share price and pay dividends. They don't want to give mortgages, take savings, pay interest etc. Consumer banking is a necessary evil, but all the banks want to do is trade and make profit to show the share holders.

    The customer is no longer king, the share holder is.

    When someone develops a business model that allows the generation of profit, without any product creation or customer base, they will have created the perfect company and share holders will wet their collective pants with glee.

    The companies aren't the real problem, the share holders are.

    It's all about money now with no regard for customer service or the quality of the prodcut released. Anything that hampers the generation of the maximum bottom line (i.e. pesky customers) is something hated by the company.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      What about credit unions?

      In that case, customer = shareholder. That's why they have a base account and require a minimum balance on it--it represents your baseline share in the union.

    2. Bronek Kozicki
      Thumb Up


      there is a book "Fixing The Game" on this exact issue. If you don't feel like reading whole, you can read about the book here

      the times are changing. Current financial turmoil will uncover more than one "the king is naked" when shareholders will discover, with big surprise, that without customers their shares are worth much less than they thought.

    3. Anonymous Coward 101

      "Banks want to be left alone to trade commodities, make profit, raise their share price and pay dividends."

      Oh, but if only they did those things! You may have noticed that banks made mind blowing losses, their share prices have collapsed, and they won't pay dividends for years to come. Share holders in some banks have been all but wiped out.

    4. YetAnotherBob


      "When someone develops a business model that allows the generation of profit, without any product creation or customer base, they will have created the perfect company and share holders will wet their collective pants with glee."

      It's already been done. It's called IT.

      Don't believe me? ask any IT group to tell you what it does.

      What you will hear is that users are idiots, and not customers. IT exists in most practicioners only as a means of keeping the machines running.

      Reality of course is that IT is only a cost sink that provides tools for others to use to do the things that make the company it's money.

      Same with Software Companies. Microsoft. You don't think that Microsoft cares about what real End Users want, do you? if they did, there would be no Windows 8!

  26. Tim Parker

    Very nice article but...

    ..something else that has also really impressed me with Mr.Pott's writing is his attention to the comments, and his willingness to discuss things with folk. Back in the mists of time, when I saw a Trevor Pott story I would tend to walk on by muttering about 'yet another bloody Windows deployment blog' - that was short-sighted of me, and now the more I read - the more I am enjoying reading.

    All in all, I personally find the quality of writing, and degree of engagement, to be in stark contrast to the output and feedback from some of the, shall we say, more established editors staff.

    Well done Sir, thank you.

    (Right, where's me fiver Trevor ?)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Very nice article but...

      Pints are always free to Register readers at the pub. ;)

  27. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Changing how we consume


    I've all but given up on TV, I listen to and watch free and paid web content, consume copious amounts of entertaining/educational podcasts and avoid radio due to the dross that is 'today's' music.

    Who'd a thunk it a few years ago?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Changing how we consume

      Guess it depends on where you live, but I still listen to the radio once in a while. Three stations in particular: two FM stations that play a lot of older (50s-70s) music and one AM station that actually plays stand-up comedy clips (trouble with the latter is they have to fill in a good chunk of each hour with commercials).

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Changing how we consume

      Podcasts. GOD YES. Microbite? Moar plox.


  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well done Trevor

    Thoroughly enjoyed this one :)

  29. Inachu

    I almost cut the cord.

    Reality TV is not where it is at.

    I mostly got FIOS so I could watch the SYFY channel for science fiction. But that is not what I get!

    Every time I turn on the TV to the SYFY channel all I get is GHOST HUNTERS!

    So what did I do? I cancled my tripple package of TV phone and internet and now I jsut pay for internet. THATS IT! If I want a show then I use NETFLIX on my ROKU device or watch Crackle.

    I just bought a digital TV antenna and now I watch over the air digital TV with just 22 channels.

    Hollywood has pissed me off. Lack of quality content and paying $180 for it? NO WAY!

    So now I just pay $89 for internet and love it! I get my phone service from OOMA and no bills AT ALL!

    RIAA is crying. All I hear people laughing at them.

  30. Ayelis

    "Why don't you dirty hippies stop protesting unemployment, corporate corruption, and crony capitalism and start spending money you don't have on CDs and DVDs?!"

    - signed, a corrupt corporation

  31. sam 16

    I'm not sure I buy the drop in media revenues being down to user created content being a real thing. But the point about games is a really good one.

    Who does the music/film industry mostly sell to? 10-30 somethings.

    Who buys all the games? 10-30 somethings.

    I think this group spends a set proportion of it's income (anything it has left over after saving and eating for the 20+, same math for the parents for 20-) on media.

    Basicly, companies are competing for this cash, and it will be paid to someone. Games has gone from 15 to 40 billion in the past decade, which more than eats the reduction in music / film spending. I'm supprised you don't hear this point more often.

    The other thing media competes for is time, because time is advertising surface area. And these days it has to compete against facebook, and the internet in general. Here, user created content, in the form the author means, is a real thing. I watch a lot more horrific user generated content on youtube than I do illicitly posted comercial stuff. Hell, I lost 4 hours the other day watching someone play flight simulator games with witty comentary.

    And that advertising revenue goes mostly to google. If anyone noticed, google is making a lot of money out of ad revenue. So subtract everything google makes from TV advertising and ask why the studios are in trouble.

    Interesting article, makes things a lot clearer. Thanks.

  32. Hnelson

    Get a Clue!

    The reasoning to their downturn in profits is pretty easy. It's called CRAP. Producers and artists are producing crap and expecting it to have huge returns and instant mega stardom. Sorry to say, most of what the big studios produce and record does not interest me. It's not even worth the time and bandwidth to download and store.

    As to Cisco, I have no kind words to say about them. Having Cisco reps selling last years goods and claiming it was cutting edge was not cool. My dumb ass boss believed it and bought the proverbial pig in the poke. Then there is the "maintenance contracts". Crappy IOS programming on Cisco's part does not constitute demanding more money from the customers. If a company is going to manufacture something, at least stand by it with ironclad support. Cisco support is spotty. I had a 7200VXR with problems and it took a threat of flying down to ass rape the support tech and switching all network equipment out to Foundry to get the problem rectified.

    Mr. Holmes get his face time, because corporate needs a clue.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hate don't change reality

    The pirates are still headed to the iron Bar Hotel.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hate don't change reality

      If you imprison 80% of your population, the other 20% is going to both have a miserable time keeping them in there, and an even more miserable time paying for it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hate don't change reality

        Only a small percentage of the population is unable to deal with copyright laws and reality. The other 97% have no problems with copyright laws and reality.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hate don't change reality

          A) Your numbers are way off in terms of the % of people who infringe copyrights.

          B) Your numbers are dead accurate in terms of the % of people who can't deal with reality. That % of people are the ones desperately clinging to outdated business models and trying very hard to make criminals out of honest, hardworking individuals.

          Only complete peckerheads who think they are entitled to infinite remuneration for minimal work believe in the ever-expanding extension of copyright, making copyright infringement into a criminal offence and otherwise putting the rights of the few above the rights of everyone else.

          The rest of us have no problems whatsoever paying a fair sum for honest work, and we expect a fair wage when we put in an honest day's work. We won't support copyright industries that seek to radically alter the balance of power such that copyright holders make out like bandits – forever – at the expense of both creators and the public at large.

          We will instead work towards fair and balanced copyright legislation and enforcement. Legislation and enforcement that punished serial copyright infringers, but also sets reasonable limits on infringement penalties for non-commercial purposes. (Infringements should scale dramatically for repeat offences.)

          We will work towards fair and balanced approaches to copyright duration that see creators rewarded for their efforts while still recognising that artistic works belong to society at large.

          We will not tolerate perpetual copyright. We will not tolerate copyright trolling. We will not tolerate $150,000 fines for a single MP3. We reject the notion of the $8 Billion ipod that somehow magically destroys 75,000 jobs. We reject copyright math just as we reject copyright infringement itself.

          It is not okay to pirate someone’s work for free. And yet, the extant reach and extremism of current copyright legislation and enforcement is equally abhorrent.

          Since copyright holders have all the money, and copyright holders are the ones who are buying lobbyists and entire governments, we are at a societal impasse. The copyright holders are unwilling to meet the creators and the general public in a fair, balanced and civilised negotiation. Quite the opposite; they insist that they have inalienable moral and legal rights to perpetually monetise the work of other people.

          We do not recognise those rights, moral or legal. We will fight you with every tool at our disposal. If that means creating a culture of piracy and the tools to enable that, fine. None of us like it, nor do we really think that it is moral, proper or the decent thing to do.

          What we do know for a fact is that we do not have the money or resources to fight you in the legal arena. We do not have the money or the resources to corrupt the governments of entire nations and turn them against their citizen as you have so very clearly done.

          So we will play the long game. We will change culture itself. We will make copyright infringement so simple and so common that nearly every single person does it. We will embed the idea in every facet of society. We will raise entire generations on this. We will slowly but surely change the public opinion of copyright across entire generations. From one that – today – would be willing to compromise and reach an amicable agreement into one that – tomorrow – will have no part in copyright whatsoever.

          Millions, of people around the world are actively engaged in this form of social dissent. You can not – and you will - not win. You can protest, and you can bluster. You can rage and you can threaten. It does not matter. Unfairness on the level currently exterted (and certainly proposed!) by the current copyright cartels is always reversed with time. The people rebel against that which they feel to be innately unfair.

          People support copyright as an idea. People emphatically, vociferously and by the billions do not support the current implementation, legislation or enforcement of copyright. It is broken. It is unfair. It has been abused, twisted and stretched beyond the original meaning, beyond fairness and reason beyond any possible moral justification whatsoever.

          If you and yours want to see copyright survive past the death of the current crop of bought-and-paid for politicians, I suggest you get off your high horse and meet creators and the general public itself at the negotiation table. Put your greed and your ego aside, indulge in some fucking hubris and work with the other 7 billion people on this planet to try to make a society that works for us all.

          By all means, let us condemn, ostracise and prosecute those who would attempt to take the works of others and profit from them. By all means, let us ensure that artistic works of all kinds are paid for and not something that we evolve our society towards expecting for free.

          But this can only be done - will only be done – in an environment where the public domain is ultimate destination for all copy written works, where reasonable and fair graduated punishment systems for infringement exist, where creators are put ahead of copyright holders and where mechanisms exist to ensure that the fees demanded for artistic works are fair, reasonable and non discriminatory.

          If you and yours cannot agree to this, then you are openly declaring your support for a culture war.

          One you simply will not win.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    News flash

    Denial ain't a river in Egypt. Pirates will continue to be punished for piracy. Hating copyright holders does not change law. For more information tune into reality.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. steeleword

    Zero Logic Here

    According to Cisco 24% of all global internet traffic is used for P2P filesharing. Envisional tested the top 10,000 torrents and every single one was posted without the permission of the content owner. That amount of data traffic represents 100's of billions of movies and music downloaded globally. To say that has no negative economic effect is beyond ridiculous. Bittorrent search engines debuted in 2004 and home video revenues have dropped 25% since then. If the author is right, why didn't they start dropping in 2002? Napster debuted in 1999 and music revenues have dropped 50% since 2000, why didn't they start dropping in 1998?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Zero Logic Here

      A) I never once said piracy had no effect. Merely that the effect was negligible. Piracy may be one amongst many enablers, but "treading your customers like the enemy" was what caused the customer base to want any path out in the frist place. As soon as Big Content started offering people media they wanted using distribution methods they prefered with zero restrictions, people started buying from Big Content again.

      Unfortunately for Big Content, a decade of piracy had driven price expectations into the floor. That is Big Content's fault for being complete idiots. The blame for that failure lays nowhere but there. (The price of a blockbuster video game for example has gone UP in that time. When DLC is factored in, it has gone from ~$50 to ~$100.)

      B) 1998 happens to equally coincide with “Years of MTV being utter shit,” the end of the grunge rock era, the concerted massive push for formulaic POP star pap, is a year after the release of Autotune and the seemingly coordinated effort to make all movies rape our childhoods by being both rip-offs of old ideas and utter shit.

      C) The ability to pirate had been around for ages. Napster provided a layer of convenience, but it was still relatively unknown in its first couple of years. Additionally, people who were really interested in pirating simply because they were cheap already had effective distribution networks to get physical objects moved between them, or to post files on USENET, etc.

      Piracy most certainly has an effect on the downfall of Big Content. But it is nowhere near what the media megaliths claim it to be. (See the link about copyright math.)

      Piracy due to people being skint is minimal. A cost of doing business comparable to the rate at which customers/suppliers go bankrupt, people shoplift or natural disasters occur. You cannot eliminate it. You cannot control it. You accept it as a cost of doing business and you seek to mitigate the costs and damage only as much as is practicable and economical.

      Piracy due to you being a giant fucking douchbag is a completely different ballgame. Treating your customers like the enemy leads to wholesale abandonment the instant any alternative becomes available. But this is something that’s completely avoidable: don’t be a dick.

      Big Content simply doesn’t get it.

      Oh well, they are no longer needed, and nobody cares about them anymore anyways.

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