Pirate LogoThe Pirate's Dilemma


Archive for the ‘Changing the Game Theory’ Category

Going Dutch


Lebowski are publishing the book in Holland next month, and to promote sales of physical copies, they are giving away the electronic version. Great to be working with (yet another) publisher who didn’t just want to publish the book, but actually put the ideas from it into practice. You can get your copy of ‘PIRATERIJ’ here.

I’ll be in Amsterdam for the launch in the third week of August – do drop me a line if you’re in the neighborhood!

GFC Vision: The Future of Music

A few weeks ago I was invited to speak at the first meeting of the Miller Global Fresh Collective, a group of creatives from the worlds of music, design, art, and fashion who met to discuss the future of collaboration and other issues affecting music. I led the first session of the day, entitled “After the Revolution, is Free the Future?”, which you can see above. The thing that’s always missing from discussions about the future of music, is musicians, so it was great to hear from so many from so many corners of the world. Brooklyn Vegan has more details.

Mos Def launches album on t-shirt

Mos Def

Some artists get annoyed when “sell more t-shirts” is presented as a solution to beating pirates, which I can understand because it implies recorded music is worth nothing. But Mos Def has hit upon a way to do it which still gives the music value; the album is the t-shirt.

Def is putting out his latest album The Ecstatic as a shirt. The music tee has the album’s cover art on the front, tracklist on the back and a code for a downloadable version of the album on a tag. The medium (not to mention the S, L, XL and XXL) is the message.

I love this idea. This is a really authentic product that will mean something to fans and values everything the artist does. I’d like to see other things being used as media for digital content. A world where the format you release your work on is as bigger creative choice as the cover art is way more interesting than one where the only choices are CD/download.

More on this over at Paste.

Open Video Conference

video platform video management video solutions free video player

Next week I’m speaking at the Open Video Conference here in NYC which looks set to be a fascinating event for anyone in the business of producing or consuming video. There’s some amazing people speaking, including Clay Shirky, Xeni Jardin from Boing Boing, Yochai Benkler, Jonothan Zittrain and film producer Ted Hope, plus many others talking about the idea of Open Video – the growing movement for transparency, interoperability, and further decentralization in online video, which would provide more fertile ground for independent producers, bottom-up innovation, and greater protection for free speech online.

For more info and to register, head here.

Pirates at Trendtag

14. Deutscher Trendtag: Social Wealth / Matt Mason: The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism from Trendbuero on Vimeo.

Two weeks ago I was invited to speak at Trendtag, an incredible event that takes place every year in Hamburg. Here’s the speech I gave. If you’ve seen me speak before you know all this already. There’s some new stuff here on The Pirate Bay Trial, Wolverine and creating virtuous circles, but the core argument of the talk remains the same. Check out the full Trendtag line up of speeches here.

Everybody lost The Pirate Bay trial

Pirate flag at half mast

Pirate flag at half mast by Atom X

The victory for the entertainment business was Pyrrhic. Four Swedes have been martyred. Yet content creators and consumers are no closer to new business models that solve the problem.

Piracy is not usually honorable. But it is often a symptom of some kind of failure or injustice. The 17th Century pirates of the high seas were rebelling against tyrannical maritime labor practices. The pirates in Somalia are a direct result of government failure, and the pirates put on trial in Sweden were the result of a market failure, which is sadly now a decade old.

That the market has not come up with alternatives to file-sharing good enough to make piracy moot is the real problem, and the companies and individuals that have stood in the way of this are the ones who owe content creators an explanation. Extremists on both sides are hailing this as a win, but it’s the majority of us in the middle who continue to lose out.

This was a show trial about money and politics, but most of all it was a sideshow. This argument is over and the entertainment industries should be focusing on the licensing schemes, royalty agreements and the new business models content creators desperately need. Thankfully many more of them are. But this verdict will encourage the ones who are not to continue pretending there is some other way around this problem that involves suing people.

No one should have to accept people stealing their work, just as no one should have to accept a company demanding that its business model works when it doesn’t. But we all have to adapt to new market realities. The way we communicate and distribute all kinds of information will continue to change at an alarming pace. Taking hard-line measures against file-sharing in the interests of a handful of large organizations sets a dangerous precedent for the future of privacy, net neutrality and freedom of speech. Intellectual property laws are about striking a balance between the interests of individual IP creators and society as a whole. If the law tips too far in either direction, the whole system will fall. Bad legal decisions on piracy may actually end up doing more damage than the piracy itself.

The verdict gives lawyers everywhere a mandate to continue chasing shadows. It won’t stop the Pirate Bay, let alone online piracy. The 20% surge in the Pirate Party’s membership that was reported after the trial was just the beginning. It’s since grown by 140% and is now the fourth largest political party in Sweden. Most of the commentary that followed rightly talked of cutting heads off hydras and hitting hornet’s nests, etc. What that really means is non-accountability measures being baked into Bit Torrent software as standard, probably in the next six months to a year. It’s already starting to happen.

Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde said after the trial that “there’s no difference between us and Google.” The judge thought there was a difference – intent. The Pirate Bay was clearly all about file-sharing, Google is not. But thanks to this trial the next generation of file-sharing sites will be much more secretive. The next mutation of The Pirate Bay will have no subversive rhetoric and won’t mock the labels and studios chasing it. It will be silent. It won’t respond. It wont be nearly as fun as TPB, but there will be no real differences between it and Google. No one will be able to prove intent, making it even more of a threat. Doesn’t exactly sound like a win for anybody in the business of creating content.

The real winners won’t be the ones that come out on top of this long, bitter trial process, appeals and all, which could take five years. It will be the side that develops the new technologies that will render that court decision meaningless before it is even issued. They may be Scandinavian pirates or Hollywood privateers, or some combination of thereof. The file-sharing community is working ten times harder because of this trial. The entertainment industries would be wise to do the same, and wiser to find ways to work with the pirates they continue to fight. The fact that they didn’t do so ten years ago cost a generation of artists billions. No-one is ever going to trial for that.

“There has been a perception that piracy is OK and that the music industry should just have to accept it. This verdict will change that.”

The above is a quote John Kennedy, chairman of industry body the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), gave to the BBC after The Pirate Bay trial verdict this morning.

The graph below is the surge in the Swedish Pirate Party’s membership today. The 20% jump means the Pirate Party now has more members than the Swedish Green Party, and, as Pirate Party VP Christian Engström put it, could be their “ticket into the European Parliament”.

Pirate Bay found guilty

Full story at Torrentfreak.

Play Machinima Law

Reposted from Boing Boing


DATE: April 24-25, 2009

LOCATION: Stanford Law School

Register now.


…It has been hailed as the art form of the 21st century. …It is redefining music videos. …And reinventing the videogame. …It might be the future of cinema.

But there’s a catch: if you make machinima, you might be breaking the law.

Or are you?

Find out at Stanford University. “Play Machinima Law” from April 24-25, 2009. This two-day conference will cover key issues associated with player-generated, computer animated cinema that is based on 3D game and virtual world environments. Speakers include machinima artists/players, legal experts, commercial game developers, theorists, and more. Topics include: game art, game hacking, open source and “modding,” player/consumer-driven innovation, cultural/technology studies, fan culture, legal and business issues, transgressive play, game preservation, and notions of collaborative co-creation drawn from virtual worlds and online games. Films will be shown throughout the conference, including: Douglas Grayeton’s Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator and Joshua Diltz’ Mercy of the Sea.

Bear with me

Bear With Me

Blogging has been mad, mad slack this last few weeks. Been traveling a lot, but that’s no excuse. Mostly it’s down to being totally immersed in my next project, which I can’t say anything about for a few months yet, other than it’s not Pirates 2, and I’m really excited about it.

In the meantime I just got the first proof of the US paperback – which my friend here is modeling. It looks exactly the same as the hardback, other than a great new cover endorsement from Chris Anderson, and is exactly the same inside. I thought about updating/expanding it but in the end, time constraints made it impossible. On one hand that was a shame, because much has happened since the book first came out, which I’ve tried to deal with here (the blog basically is the extended book). People have dealt with Pirate’s Dilemmas in all sorts of ways, both good and not so good. Having said that, the core message of the book remains the same, so why change it? We haven’t got to a point where enough people get this yet. So instead I focused on working with people and organizations individually to push that message.

But I do think things are slowly changing. More people in more industries are starting to look past the problems of here and now to the possibilities of economic models based on abundance – the potential this new economic system has (Anderson’s next book FREE is going to do a lot to help that).

All the current financial turmoil will take us somewhere very different. Unlike any place we’ve seen before in history. But not enough people see the wood for the trees yet. Arguing about the future of the music business is moot. What’s interesting is what this world might look like a few decades down the road when this new system has matured, got past the growing pains and shaken off the old dogma. When abundance is a positive, profitable reality in all kinds of industries, even though we will undoubtedly be facing incredible, life-threatening scarcities at the same time. That’s what I find really interesting. And that’s the only clue I’m giving you about the next project for now : )

Pirates is out in paperback May 5th.

Warner Music’s Takedown Net Snares Babies


via the EFF:

“Warner Music’s automated takedown net has now caught two videos of little kids being little kids.

“Of course we can’t show you the videos since they’re, well, censored, but the YouTomb snapshots tell most of the story. One showed a 4 year old lip-syncing to the old Foreigner hit, “Juke Box Hero.” The other apparently showed a baby smacking its lips to the tune of “I Love My Lips”—a song originally sung by a cucumber in an episode of “Veggie Tales.” Both videos are obvious fair uses (these are transformative, noncommercial videos that are not substitutes for the original songs, and there is no plausible market for “licensing” parents before they video their own children singing) and perfectly legal—just like the video of a baby dancing to a Prince song that Universal Music Group took down in 2007.”

Not cool. Honestly, it depresses me that it’s 2009 and we as a society are still arguing about this bullshit. All the answers to these problems are there. There is so much money not being earned by artists and labels and studios and networks because a handful of people are still making bad decisions and cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s time for one of the large players to do something really different and show everyone else it can be done.

E-mail It