While Hollywood pushes to have Washington D.C. take over the internet in the name of fighting piracy, some of the most successful purveyors of digital content are heading in the opposite direction.
Take for instance Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds.
Speaking at Middem in Cannes today, Mikael Hed, Rovio's CEO, revealed that he doesn't spend much time worrying about piracy.
As reported by TheNextWeb, Hed told the crowd, "We can learn a lot from the terrible way the music industry dealt with piracy. It would be futile to tackle it all." He added, "If we have failed to make our legitimate products the easiest thing to buy, it’s almost our fault that we get pirated."
One of the reasons Hed isn't worried about piracy of his company's apps is that increasingly, they're channels for getting consumers interested in other products, such as Angry Birds merchandise.
Merchandise, of course, isn't immune to piracy, and Rovio does have issues with manufacturers who are producing unauthorized merchandise. But even then, Rovio thinks the pirates are helping promote its brand doesn't act -- "so long as the product is well made."
Smart move, or short-sighted? Time will tell. As TheNextWeb's Martin Bryant notes, companies paying for licenses so that they can legally manufacture Rovio-branded merchandise might not be so amused. After all, those high-quality knockoffs are a real threat to their businesses, and at some point, the pirates could make licensing from Rovio less attractive.
That, obviously, isn't the case yet, which highlights an important point: piracy is often perceived a lot less of a problem when your business or industry is young and growing. When it matures, however, and every cent matters, it becomes less amusing. Obviously, that doesn't excuse Hollywood's behavior, but we shouldn't be surprised to see companies that are taking a more relaxed stance today toughen their positions in a few years when new sources of growth are harder to find.