Are you a pirate or are you a fan?

One of challenges White Rabbit is going to solve is ensuring we understand the difference between a pirate and a fan — and, that we differentiate between them.

Illegal streaming started off as a game. It was a sport — who can upload the latest hottest music. It was street cred, online. If you haven´t read the book “How Music Got Free” by Stephen Witt, I highly recommend it. I read it shortly after I had come up with the idea of White Rabbit. If you´ve heard my pitch or read the Whitepaper, you´ll recognise that I paraphrased its logline: “What happens when an entire generation commits a crime”. With White Rabbit it´s become “When an entire generation breaks the law, it´s no longer a crime, it´s a business opportunity”.

Mr Witt, that´s what I believe will happen with White Rabbit.

When illegal streaming exploded, first for music, now for film, the numbers became huge. Huge to the extent that it is a crime indeed, and rightly so. However, I am of the opinion that unless you offer an alternative, your legitimacy to prosecute is limited. That´s probably why the war on piracy shows few signs of success. Today, more than 200M people stream illegally in Europe, while only 20M subscribe to Netflix. Why? Because Popcorn Time showed us what was possible — it changed our expectations. It wasn´t about free, it was about choice and convenience.

How do I know this? Because 60% of 10,000 illegal streamers said they are willing to pay — and do pay — for content. In fact, they pay more. Those that stream illegally spend more on cinemas, merchandise and subscriptions then those that don´t pirate. These are not really pirates — these are the most dedicated fans we could ask for. The problem is, unlike any other industry — the film industry refuses to let them watch and pay!

Let´s get back to the pirates. It´s a game. It´s a principle. It´s living on the edge. Whatever the reason, there is no way you, I or anyone else will ever be able to convince them otherwise. Fine. They pay for bread, but won´t pay for entertainment and art. One day they might realise that to continue producing art and entertainment you must allow those who create it to make a living. They have families too. Now though, this is not the pirates concern. That´s their choice. BUT. Let´s not put them in the same group as those who merely want access, convenience and are willing to pay. In fact, let´s make sure we make a clear difference between those that pirate and the fans. That´s a White Rabbit mission.

Pirates won´t pay on principle, period.

Fans are those who are willing to break the law just to watch our films, but are not given the opportunity to pay and prove their loyalty.

Rightscorp, one of the top anti-piracy companies collected barely $250,000 in fees in 2017 on an estimated $15Bn in lost revenue from piracy. Fining fans is obviously no winning strategy. In fact, a suppressed report paid for by the EU shows that piracy isn´t harmful to indie and arthouse film, it helps them get recognized. The problem is though — piracy is not maximizing these films revenue potential either.

Do you know any other industry that deliberately blocks its fans from accessing its product? Does the gaming industry block its fans from playing a game available in the US, from fans in Australia? Of course not. Respecting cinemas is one thing. Not realizing the potential of technology and IPR is another thing entirely.

Protecting IP is not about locking entertainment and creativity up, protecting IP is about maximizing revenue potential.

If we want to change the game, if we want to maximize our IP rights, then allowing fans to pay is the way to go. If you install the White Rabbit plug-in you´ve made a conscious choice to pay for content, on the condition that you are given access to it, the way you the fan chooses. Where you choose to watch that film or series is your business. Paying for watching is not. Fans know this and are ready to pay. Tell me, why shouldn´t we let them?

1. You maximize your IP rights by collecting lost revenue

2. You make a clear distinction between pirates and fans

3. Therefore, fighting piracy becomes focused — White Rabbit separates those who refuse to pay from those who want to pay.

4. You build a more mature audience for your content, and offer fans more content, more merchandise, more involvement, more incentives and more monetization. You as a producer, distributor and sales agent do the job your supposed to do: maximize revenue from IPR.

We are fully conscious of our responsibilities at White Rabbit. We are changing one industry, creating another, and fan by fan, altering the attitudes of a generation. White Rabbit´s live by the motto: responsible rebels. We think its high time the film and series industry does the same.

Click here to connect to White Rabbit´s Telegram group and find out more.

NOTE: this is the original Medium blog, which was expanded for an op-ed piece for the International Business Times. You can read the more extensive article here:

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