The carrot beats the stick
A recent piece of research found that in some situations punishing bad behavior is not an effective mechanism for promoting public cooperation:
As in real life, Rand says, study subjects tend to resent “free riders” who fail to contribute to a group yet reap the benefits of membership in it.
“But despite this anger at free riders, rewarding good behavior is as effective as punishing bad behavior for maintaining public cooperation and leads to better outcomes for the group,” Rand says. “When both options are available, reward leads to increased contributions and payoff for the group, while punishment has no effect on contributions and leads to lower payoff for the group.”
The stick of the Devil
This is very interesting, in light of something that really annoys me.
Here’s the scenario: I lay out a healthy chunk of cash to purchase a brand new DVD — perhaps a TV series, such as Battlestar Galactica.
I clear some time, settle back and press Play, ready to watch the next installment of this superbly executed and gripping story.
But before I’m allowed anywhere near the drama I’m first inescapably subjected to the offensive and laughable ‘anti-pahracy’ propaganda:
There’s no bypassing it, no skipping it, no evading it. I’m being branded a criminal as thanks for providing hard earned cash in exchange for a legal, commercial copy of the DVD.
Don’t put me through hell
It makes me wonder just why I bothered to pay, when presumably I could have downloaded the show from an illegal torrent and watched it without being ‘beaten up’ and dragged through hell first.
Every time I’m forced to watch this garbage I feel angry and resentful. My antagonism towards the whole ‘industry’ is increased.
I believe the writers, actors, and all those who have contributed to creating this work should receive reward for their work. Creating stuff is hard work, the creators deserve to be paid.
But as the purchaser of this entertainment I deserve to be respected.
Thank you works
So, here’s a thought. How about using the carrot instead of the stick? How about some creative extra goodie that thanks us for buying the work, and contributing to the ability of the creators to produce more fine entertainment?
Make it skippable so we don’t have to be thanked all the time. Make it high-quality and entertaining. Make it enjoyable. Make me, the buyer, feel as though I’ve done something right and good for handing over my cash. Make me want to buy more entertainment.
Oh, and by the way, make it easier for me to buy the shows when everyone else is able to buy them, and in a format that works for me. Don’t make me wait an arbitrary amount of time for a DVD that will work in my DVD player but not in my computer because of region-locking.
Let me pay to download it, when it’s released. Do worldwide releases, not releases by geography.
Thieves and freeloaders will surely always be with us, but if the industry caters to the honest, rewards the honest, rather than punishes us we’ll share the ‘anger at freeriders’ and help in the fight against illegal copying.
Carrots, not sticks
Crikey — if I’ve paid for a movie I should rightly feel annoyed at the illegal sharers, the rip-off merchants who are endangering the profits that reward the creators and the risk-takers who make fine entertainment. If I’m recognised as a valuable customer I’ll do what I can to keep feeding the machine that entertains me.
But every time I slot in a legal DVD and am told I’m a ‘pahrat’, threatened by the devil with a branding iron, beaten with that big stick I just feel angry. Remind me again why I spent money to be beaten up, when I could have had the movie for free from the torrent sites?