Industry veteran: LimeWire pirates were iTunesí best customers

By on July 26, 2011, 4:43 PM

Internet pirates are always portrayed as parasitic freeloaders responsible for countless instances of DRM, the "death" of PC gaming, ISP bandwidth caps and more, but according to one industry veteran, that's entirely unfair. During a keynote speech at CA Expo in Sydney, former Google CIO and EMI executive Douglas C. Merrill said that he believes filesharers shouldn't be punished for downloading copyrighted material because it often drives them to make legitimate purchases.

While employed by EMI (one of the world's largest music labels and an RIAA member), Merrill supposedly profiled LimeWire users and discovered that they were actually some of the biggest spenders on iTunes. "That's not theft, that's try-before-you-buy marketing and we weren't even paying for it… so it makes sense to sue them," Merrill said sarcastically. In an amusing analogy, he said that suing people for filesharing "is like trying to sell soap by throwing dirt on your customers."

Merrill has made similar comments in the past. In a 2008 CNET interview he said there's data to show that filesharing is actually good. "Obviously, there is piracy that is quite destructive but again I think the data shows that in some cases, filesharing might be okay. What we need to do is understand when it is good…suing fans doesn't feel like a winning strategy." We haven't seen that data, but Merrill isn't the first person to suggest filesharing isn't as harmful as it seems.

In fact, a week ago TorrentFreak reported on a study conducted by the Society for Consumer Research (GfK) which also concluded that most pirates use the service as a "try before you buy" medium. The research claimed that piracy leads users to buy more DVDs and spend more than non-pirates at movie theaters. Unfortunately, this data is also unavailable because the (anonymous) company who commissioned the study reportedly asked GfK to yank the results offline.




User Comments: 20

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NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Haha, well this isn't as surprising as it seems.

Guest said:

*feign shock and disbelief*

Money grubbing already rich fat cats, lobbyists, lawyers and other A-holes exaggerated the effects of filesharing and made it out to be a catastrophic Aids like phenomenom when all along it was more of a sniffle, not even a cold...

Kurt Cobain said Milk It... and they do, all the time. Capatilistic corporate whores. =)

HiDDeNMisT HiDDeNMisT said:

Haha would be awesome if the riaa would read this and comment. I still want to see the reason behind the lawsuit of a 70 year old woman who doesn't even know what bittorrent is.

Emin3nce said:

Ok,

So I purchased Assassins Creed (1) for $99 for my PC. Let's just say it died and died and crashed and crashed and the tech support offered was ******* useless. I was a little sore. $99 isn't a small purchasing decision when it comes to frivolous activities like gaming.

When Assassins Creed II came out, i pirated it. Made sure it worked on my pc (for the first few scenes)... Then I purchased a legitimate copy once I was satisfied that EA games wasn't going to be ******* me for my $99 this time.

FYI, better support is needed guys - that's the ONLY thing purchasing a game has over the alternatives. If i spend $99 on a title, you better make sure it's working on my PC.

tacobfm said:

You guys mean "extended demo" right?

Coodu Coodu said:

Sounds like me in a nutshell. Why just yesterday I bought Viva la Vida on CD from my local record shop after pirating a copy the night before.

This is how I am with games, movies too.

I also totally agree with emin3nce's statements.

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

also on a serious note, if fans love it they will buy the songs and merchandise to support their favorite bands or singers.

Guest said:

The state of the PC market has made it so that only the truly inept will buy a PC game outright before testing to make sure that anything from basic graphics drivers to input devices actually work on the PC.. most of the pirating i come across is simply your average gamer who's tired of being burned at the cash register, ( Homefront, TDU2, HAWX2...need I go on..), the developers and publishers have done it to themselves as far as i'm concerned.

Win7Dev said:

It all comes down to money in the end.

Guest said:

I'm not surprised and I think I read something similar years ago already. When it comes to games this is quite true for me too, you can't trust reviews to tell if a game is any good.

Something I won't buy again is DVDs though, last one had a 15 second unskippable 'pirating is stealing' message that went on like some brainwashing clip every time you tried to watch it. Felt like someone was making fun of me 'cause I bought the movie instead of pirating it...

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Yep, sounds like me also, I used to bit torrent music when i was 14, but if it was good I would buy it on CD anyway.

Now-a-days I may priate the odd thing mainly because it is not possible to get on UK iTunes, HMV or Amazon (yes I have found a case like this, The Film "Titan A.E." for example I can pickup and the sound track is epic! but cannot find it on any UK based shop or website).

I will always think sueing someone for downloading the odd song iligally, $$$$$'s simply isn't the right thing to do, maybe changing the song price maybe, I know its petty but I would rather pay £0.99 than £1000 on court fee's. Actually that would push me to simply use iTunes or amazon anyway and not have the hassle.

Guest said:

Record labels needs to clean their act up. For years I have used clips of various songs to act as a backing track to gaming videos on Youtube. Now we've hit a certain level of subscribers, pretty much all songs we upload will be insta-banned despite our efforts to dispute them.

I've lost 5 videos and ~20 hours of work from this.

It's not like our viewers are going to use our videos to listen to their favourite track without buying it. Rather, it's more of a 'try-before-you-buy' so people will purchase the real thing.

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

I really wish I could find this business case that I studied back in college. The band realised that they weren't making much from selling CDs (cuz of the record company sucking up all the cash) so they left them and focused on have concerts and copyrighting their merchandise. At the concerts they would allow people to hook up recording devices to the sound board.

Honestly it sounds like a better business model to me. Screw focusing on making money on seling songs, if people love your music they will buy anything you put out.

Guest said:

This issue was nothing more than a way to cap and charge for bandwidth usage and seperate that cost from access charges you allready pay. That also opened the door for forced bandwidth usage from pop up, pop under, and opened on arrival video to run up your usage costs by corporate organizations! In a class action these practices would be considered theft as they are stealing something you are being charged for. Should we then assume that to steal someones charge card and use it for our own devices is also fine and dandy by their standards?

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Most games that I pirate, I end up buying... at least... I call that my "demo" if I quit the game after a few days or week.. I delete it, I dont share it. Speaking of demos, anyone know of a demo for Alice: The Madness Returns (or whatever its called)

Guest said:

I'd still like to know how I am 'stealing' anything if I never intended to buy something in the first place?

To set the scene, I do buy 'some' software. When its an awesome game that I know I am going to get my moneys worth. If I see a new Armed Assault on the shelves I will happily fork over cash. If they ever bring out a new Baldurs Gate/Neverwinter Nights/Dragon Age etc I will get my wallet out. Same goes for a decent Space Combat Sim or a new Civilization Game.

But, when I see a new Command and Conquer/Red Alert or one of those style build and zerg games or the latest FPS de jour I will just download it. Play it for 2-3 days and dump it. So what did I 'steal' ?? I never intended to buy it. If it was 'avaliable' to download I wouldn't have batted an eyelid in the games direction.

I don't use P2P so i am not 'distributing' the software either.

As an IT person I also download full version business products. Most trial software is far too limited to make a decent recommendation to purchase. So I'll obtain it. Let users have a play around with it and if they decide they want it I'll make legit purchases. So I can definately ascribe to the 'try before you buy' model. A lot of it is amateurish crap hidden behind a semi professional looking website so I think its far better to err on the side of caution especially with the exhorbitant pricing of business software.

fimbles fimbles said:

Pretty pretty please let someone in the riaa pay attention to this and stop the silly lawsuits.

Guest said:

Good going RIAA, you *really* showed them! <eye-roll>

Guest said:

Back in the days before the WEB, to download just about anything, you went to a bullitin board and downloaded from their file list. That was OK, but at 2400bps, you would timeout before the download was complete.

When the Shareware shop opened down the street, it was great. Most of the shareware was on the honor system. Fully functional. If you liked it, send the author the price. It worked back then also.

Try before you buy.

Guest said:

i so agree, they fill the dvd's with all these anti piracy crap adds and they wonder "WHY" people pirate

thats why when i buy a dvd i'll download it anyways because my pc has no rom/burner, its also what i use to play my movies lol and i'm sick to death of the bloody adverts. you've just kicked back after working your *** off all day and the last thing u want is someone telling you "you wouldnt steal a handbag...... YOU WOULDNT STEAL A CAR" its like I KNOW!!! **** OFF!!! and your no longer in the mood to watch there shitty dvd

also what ever happpened to the mass of playable demo's for pc games? to get the duke nukem forever demo u needed the deluxe edition boarderlands and what is to say that if u buy the game its gonna run well? **** spending 80 bucks on something likely to crash ay? time to pirate so you can "try before you buy"

i pirated doom 3, it was alright, days later i purchased the complete doom collection. same with farcry, but i purchased farcry 2 aswell, same with plants vs zombies. i have also purchased games on steam that i already own such as SW knights of the old republic, quake 3, quake 2, unreal anthology, SW jedi academy ect as i hate stuffing around with disks and its just so much easier to manage all the games on there, and steam doesnt put a malicious rootkit on your computer like certain sony music cd's. also steam is great if you can't be arsed buying a dvd/BD drive like me lol

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