Rovio Mobile says it has learned a thing or two about piracy from the music industry – namely, how not to deal with it. The Finnish developer behind the wildly popular Angry Birds franchise was at the Midem conference in Cannes yesterday, where its chief executive Mikael Hed told an audience that "piracy may not be a bad thing" and that it can actually get the company more business by the end of the day.

Hed admits that they have some issues with piracy, not only involving the app itself, but also with the proliferation of bogus Angry Birds merchandise. However, the company believes that  pirated materials can help attract more fans to the franchise, which could then spend money on legitimate Angry Birds offerings.

The company's CEO said that they have avoided the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy, and instead of viewing people in terms of users, they view them as fans. "If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow," Mikael Hed commented.

To some extent Rovio is in a different position than most game developers and can afford to lose some $0.99 game sales given that their Angry Birds franchise has grown so big it has moved beyond the game world and into the physical world with toys and other branded items. The company says its apps have become a channel to cross-promote and sell further content so as long as it reaches a broader audience it's still doing business.

Although Hed explained that Rovio sees it as "futile" to pursue pirates through the courts, they would do it in cases where it feels the products they are selling are harmful to the Angry Birds brand or ripping off fans.